Paris: French Interior Minister Christophe on Saturday night said that 288 people have been arrested in the yellow vest protests in Paris and some 100 people injured, one of them a demonstrator who is in extremely serious condition.
“All the police, the gendarmes and civil security forces were mobilised today,” Castaner said, adding that 65,000 agents had been deployed around the country and 4,000 in Paris, a number that proved insufficient to deal with the 3,000 violent protesters identified by the authorities.
The Interior Minister announced that authorities have recovered control of the Arc de Triomphe, occupied and damaged by the rioters, Efe reported.
“I am shocked by the challenge against symbols of France,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said earlier. “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier encircled, the Arc de Triomphe daubed,” he added.
The arch was spattered with yellow paint saying, “The ‘yellow vests’ will triumph” and later a group of demonstrators managed to get access to the top of the monument.
The protest was dubbed the “gilets aunes” or yellow vest movement owing to the high-visibility protective clothing worn by its adherents.
The prime minister said some protesters had wielded weapons such as hammers and the number of those who had participated in the mobilisations called by the yellow vests against the rise of fuel taxes and a loss in the acquisitive power of their wages had reached some 5,500 in Paris and 36,000 in France as a whole.
As the day wore on, the area surrounding the Champs-Elysees began to look like a war zone, with protesters launching Molotov cocktails and cobblestones at police who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
The upscale area, which is usually associated with political power where many ambassadors and diplomats live was cloaked in smoke and tear gas and dotted with burning cars and containers.
Castaner said he had ordered police to retreat on several occasions, such as the assault on the monument, to avoid putting their lives in danger.
In addition, firefighters had to put out 187 fires and rush to six building that had been attacked by those that Castaner described as “seditious.”
A member of the yellow vests was seriously injured after a group of demonstrators tried to knock down the fence around the Tuileries Garden, which finally fell on one of them, who is currently between life and death.