133 injured and 412 arrested amid Paris riot

Thousands of anti-government protesters are expected today on the Champs Elysees in Paris

Thousands of anti-government protesters are expected today on the Champs Elysees in Paris

A protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot in the French capital, as activists wearing yellow jackets torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti. The Paris police department said 205 people had been arrested including militants from the far-right and far-left.

Macron and key ministers were to meet later on Sunday to consider declaring an emergency to prevent a recurrence of the riots.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a statement that around 5,500 protesters marched onto streets in Paris. He refused to answer any questions from journalists about the situation in Paris.

The scene contrasted sharply with protests elsewhere in France, where demonstrations and road blockades Saturday were largely peaceful. France's failure to quell the anger has led to copycat yellow jacket movements in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

At least 183 protesters have been arrested so far while 80 have been confirmed injured, including members of the French security forces.

Acrid plumes of smoke and tear gas, however, were testament to the escalation in violence in Paris, to the consternation of numerous "yellow vests", so-called for the high-visibility jackets they wear.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner tweeted that "1,500 troublemakers" were around the Champs-Elysees avenue, outside a perimeter secured by police. A video on social media shows the heavy fence falling on some protesters.

Security officials were locked inside the Interior Ministry for crisis talks for several hours during the afternoon.

Pockets of protesters built barricades in the middle of streets in Paris, lit fires and threw rocks at police.

As two French police union officials told Reuters, the protesters seized the weapon from a police vehicle in central Paris. All subway stations in and around the avenue were closed for security reasons. Hours later, vehicle after auto still smoldered.

In Paris, masked and hooded protesters picked up and hurled crowd barriers and other projectiles in running battles with police around the world famous Champs Elysees boulevard.

Some 5,000 police officers are on duty in Paris.

Protesters are particularly angry about Macron's gas tax hike earlier this year in a bid to reduce the country's reliance on fossil fuels.

Demonstrators destroy cars during a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs, on December 1, 2018 in Paris.

Khattar Abou Diab, the director of the Council on Geopolitics and Perspectives in Paris, told Al Arabiya that this leaderless movement so far will test Macron's leadership as protests go on for a third consecutive weekend.

Earlier Saturday, hundreds of people gathered at the top of the Champs-Elysees on Saturday morning.

"Access to the Champs-Elysees was closed to cars and strictly monitored by police with identity checks and bag inspections".

"It's hard to reach the end of the month".

"We're a peaceful movement, but we're disorganized - it's a mess because we don't have a leader", said Dan Lodi, a 68-year-old pensioner on the Champs-Elysees.

"Our purchasing power is severely diminishing every day". And the state is asking us to tighten our belts, but they at the contrary live totally above all standard with our money.

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