Scuffles break out during Yellow Vest protests in Paris (WATCH LIVE)
The atmosphere at the Yellow Vest protests in the heart of the French capital has become more strained as demonstrators engage in scuffles with police officers.
Tensions rose hours into the rallies and police resorted to force against the rioters near the artistic Montmartre district in the north of the capital.
Scuffles also broke out near Madeleine Church, some 2km from Montmartre. Protesters were also seen near the iconic Louvre Museum and Sacre-Coeur Basilica. Around 30 people have been detained, according to BFM TV.
As of noon on Saturday, some 800 people in fluorescent vests – clothing usually worn by drivers that has now become an emblem of the rallies – were marching in the capital. The number of participants in the streets has notably diminished, however. At this stage of the protests some weeks ago, the numbers had already surpassed several thousand.
Yellow Vest protesters changed their usual meeting place. Instead of the Champs-Elysees, where violent clashes have occurred, they rallied in Montmartre. Yet, the district wasnt the intended venue for the rallies. Initially, they were called to march towards a French symbol of power and a major tourist site – the iconic Versailles Palace. Located some 20km west of Paris, the palace was once besieged during the French Revolution.
As in previous weeks, the protests have also spread beyond the capital. Some 300 demonstrators gathered in front of the city hall in Marseille. People also marched near a local police station, demanding the release of two Yellow Vests who had been detained earlier in the day.
Protesters also gathered at the A9 highway toll of Le Boulou in southern France. Waving Catalan flags and carrying a banner saying “All united” the rally was apparently a nod to Friday's protests in Barcelona.
France has been hit by a sixth consecutive weekend of Yellow Vest rallies. Previous protests turned violent, with demonstrators hurling stones and fireworks at police, while law enforcement resorted to using tear gas and water cannon. The mayhem has left almost 3,000 people, both protesters and police officers, injured. Over 4,500 have been detained and placed into custody since mid-November.
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