PARIS - Police firing tear gas and using water cannon clashed with protesters in Paris who are angry over rising fuel costs and President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies, the second weekend of “yellow vest” protests across France.
A trailer was set on fire and exploded on the Champs Elysees and a man who tried to attack fire fighters was overpowered by some of the demonstrators themselves.
On the nearby Avenue de Friedland, police fired special rubber balls to control demonstrators. At least 18 people had been detained so far, police said.
Around 5,000 protesters had converged on the Champs Elysees where police tried to prevent them from reaching the president’s Elysee Palace nearby.
Protesters sang the national anthem and waved French flags while others carried signs with slogans saying “Macron, resignation” and “Macron, thief”.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner accused far-right leader Marine Le Pen of fanning the protests.
“The ultra-right is mobilized and is building barricades on the Champs Elysees. They are progressively being neutralized and pushed back by police,” he said.
In a message on Twitter, Le Pen said she had questioned why no protests were being allowed in the area.”Today Mr Castaner is using this to target me. This is low and dishonest” she said.
Protesters are opposed to taxes Macron introduced last year on diesel and petrol which are designed to encourage people to shift to more environmentally friendly transport. Alongside the tax, the government has offered incentives to buy green or electric vehicles.