Over 250 detained in Paris ahead of anti- govt protests
The movement began three weeks ago in opposition to a rise in fuel tax
At least 278 people have been detained in the French capital ahead of anti-government protests called by the so-called 'Yellow Vest' movement in opposition to a rise in fuel tax, the police said on Saturday.
France was bracing for the renewed demonstrations with nearly 90,000 security personnel on the streets. Some 8,000 officers and 12 armoured vehicles were deployed in Paris alone, where shops were boarded up and sites like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum closed.
A police spokeswoman said that the number of arrests could rise over the course of the day. Most of the arrested were detained for being part of groups likely to carry out acts of violence, or for being in possession of objects that could be used for that purpose, the spokeswoman said, adding that they could be released once the relevant verifications were made.
The movement began three weeks ago in opposition to a rise in fuel tax and planned increases in taxes on polluting forms of transport, but it has since evolved into broader demonstrations against the government of President Emmanuel Macron. Ministers say the movement has been hijacked by "ultra-violent" protesters.
Paris tourist sites shut as capital goes into lockdown
Paris was in lockdown on Saturday, with the Eiffel Tower and other tourist landmarks shut, as French security forces braced for renewed rioting by 'Yellow Vest' protesters in the capital.
Protesters, using social media, have billed the weekend as "Act IV" in a dramatic challenge to President Emmanuel Macron and his policies.
"According to the information we have, some radicalised and rebellious people will try to get mobilised tomorrow," interior minister Christophe Castaner said on Friday. "Some ultra-violent people want to take part," he added.
In addition to the closure of the Eiffel Tower, many shops and museums across Paris, including the Louvre, the Orsay Museum and the Grand Palais, remained shut on Saturday for safety reasons. Music festivals, operas and other cultural events in the capital were cancelled.
The national Federation of French Wholesale Markets said that Christmas markets have been "strongly impacted" and that its members registered "an average fall of their estimated figures between 30 and 40 per cent since the beginning of the movement."
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