France ‘yellow vest’ protesters defy government to gather

France ‘yellow vest’ protesters defy government to gather

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PARIS: “Yellow vest” protesters have gathered in Paris and other cities for a fifth consecutive Saturday of demonstrations.

Protesters defied a government call to suspend the action following Tuesday’s attack on Strasbourg’s Christmas market where a gunman killed four people.

But the numbers appear to be low. In Paris, slightly more than 2,000 have turned up compared to 10,000 last week.

The movement, initially against a rise in fuel taxes, now addresses other issues, including education reforms.

Seven people have died in the “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protests so far, the latest in an accident resulting from a blockade by protesters on Friday.

Overall, so far some 33,500 have turned out across the country, police say. This includes Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon, Nantes, Toulouse and others.

About 69,000 police have been mobilised across France to prevent a repeat of the violence of previous weeks.

Police have stopped and questioned 136 people in the capital, compared to more than 500 a week ago.

Scuffles broke out on the Champs Elysées several times during the day, with police using tear gas and water cannon.

Some museums were closed, but both the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower remained open.

In Bordeaux, more than 4,500 protesters took to the streets. Police had to use water cannon to disperse them. In Nantes, some 1,200 protesters saw rounds of tear gas fired at them.

Similar scenes occurred in Toulouse, Avignon and Besançon.

In Calais, a group of “yellow vests” blocked the access road to the port.__BBC

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