French police fired tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon in battles with “yellow vest” protesters trying to breach security cordons on the Champs Elysees in Paris on Saturday ahead of a third rally against high living costs.
Police said 81 people had been arrested amid concerns that violent far-right and far-left groups were infiltrating the “yellow vests” movement, a spontaneous grassroots rebellion over the struggle of many in France to make ends meet.
For more than two weeks, the “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) have blocked roads in protests across France, posing one of the largest and most sustained challenges Emmanuel Macron has faced in his 18-month-old presidency.
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.
Three policemen and seven protesters had been injured, spokeswoman Johanna Primevert said.
“The thugs are a minority and have no place in these demonstrations,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told LCI television.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe cancelled a planned speech at a rally for Macron’s party to monitor developments in…