Published: Mon, March 18, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

France seeks answers after police failed to stop Paris riots

France seeks answers after police failed to stop Paris riots

Rioters have set fire to a bank and ransacked stores on Paris's landmark shopping street in a new flare-up of violence as part of France's yellow vest protests.

Protesters clash with riot police near Champs-Elysees avenue, vandalise luxury stores and set fires during the 18th straight week of anti-government rallies.


President Emmanuel Macron cut short a skiing trip in the Pyrenees to return to Paris for a crisis meeting, as hooded protesters went on the rampage in Paris, leaving a trail of destruction in the touristic heart of the city.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe acknowledged Sunday that there had been security "flaws" which needed to be rectified. December saw the most violent weekends, with protests often forcing shops to shut down during the key run-up to Christmas.

"It is unacceptable to see that the government is unable to maintain order", Mr Bellamy said, adding that the images of yellow vest violence were a source of "humiliation" for France.

However French authorities have already been accused of a heavy-handed response to the yellow vest movement, which began in November over fuel taxes before ballooning into a sustained revolt against Macron. At issue, lawmakers noted the resulting downgrade in France's trading situation and "economic attractiveness", that comes as a outcome to the disruptions on the street, the Senate said in a statement Sunday.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said about 1,500 of those who traveled to protest Saturday in Paris came with the sole aim of smashing things up.

Attendance at Yellow Vest protests had been falling in recent weeks, but it is hard to assess where the movement is heading.

"I used to have support for them, but they have gone too far".

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Some 10,000 people participated in Saturday's Paris protest, according to France's Interior Ministry, up from the 3,000 the Saturday before. Nationwide, protesters were estimated at 32,300, compared with 28,600 last week.

The Paris Ile-de-France Chamber of Commerce says it wants an emergency plan, and that 91 businesses were hit on Saturday, almost all of them suffering serious damage.

Yet after offering French workers a series of economic concessions to address their complaints, Macron, the protesters' target, is now resurgent in the polls.

Although numbers have dwindled, they were higher again on Saturday than in previous weeks.

Authorities and some protesters blame extremists or "black blocs" who come to rallies with the sole objective of causing chaos of hijacking the once-peaceful movement.

Riot police officers take position during a yellow vests demonstration on the Champs Elysees Saturday, March 16, 2019 in Paris. They wear black masks and hoods to hide their identity, and often target symbols of capitalism or globalisation.

Businesses were attacked along the Champs-Elysees, home of numerous luxury brand stores and high-end eateries.

He said: "Yellow vest leaders have warned for weeks that Saturday would be the biggest day of action yet ..."

Police said 237 people were arrested, and prosecutors said 106 were being held in custody.

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