Yellow vest protests hit with police water cannon, tear gas in Paris

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The movement, which began as protests over high fuel taxes, has snowballed into a wholesale rejection of French President Emmanuel Macron and his policies. (AFP)
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French riot police clears the streets of yellow vest protestors in Bourges, central France, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP)
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Protesters face gendarmes and BAC police officers during an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vests "Gilets Jaunes" movement, in Nantes, western France, on January 12, 2019. (AFP)
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BAC police officers stand in a group during an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vests "Gilets Jaunes" movement, in Nantes, western France, on January 12, 2019. (AFP)
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Protesters wearing Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) and waving Brittany flags march during an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vest movement in Saint-Brieuc, western France, on January 12, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Yellow vest protests hit with police water cannon, tear gas in Paris

  • Officials have vowed zero tolerance for the violence that has marred the weekly protests since they began two months ago
  • The movement, which began as protests over high fuel taxes, has snowballed into a wholesale rejection of Emmanuel Macron and his policies

PARIS: Paris police fired water cannon and tear gas to push back "yellow vest" demonstrators from around the Arc de Triomphe monument on Saturday, in the ninth straight weekend of protests against French President Emmanuel Macron's economic reforms.
Thousands of protesters in Paris marched noisily but mostly peacefully through the Grands Boulevards shopping area in northern Paris, close to where a massive gas explosion in a bakery killed two firefighters and a Spanish tourist and injured nearly 50 people early on Saturday.
But small groups of demonstrators broke away from the designated route and threw bottles and other projectiles at the police.
Around the 19th-century Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs Elysees boulevard, riot police fired water cannon and tear gas at militant yellow-vest protesters after being pelted with stones and paint, witnesses said.
Groups of protesters also gathered on and around the Champs Elysees, the scene of disturbances in recent weeks, many of them calling loudly for Macron to resign.
"Macron, we are going to tear down your place!" one banner read.
The Interior Ministry said it estimated that there were 32,000 demonstrators nationwide on Saturday, including 8,000 in Paris, below the 50,000 counted last week and well below the record 282,000 nationwide on Nov. 17, the first day of yellow vest protests.
But the number of demonstrators in Paris was well above the past two weekends, when authorities counted just 3,500 people on Jan. 5 and only 800 on Dec. 29.
Much of central Paris was in lockdown on the first week of post-Christmas sales with bridges across the Seine river closed and official buildings such as parliament and the Elysee presidential palace protected by police barriers.
In Paris, 121 "gilets jaunes" (yellow vest) were arrested, some for carrying objects that could be used as weapons, police said. By nightfall, there had been no looting or burning of cars as seen in previous weeks.
There were also thousands of marchers in the cities of Bordeaux and Toulon in southern France as well as Strasbourg in the east and the central city of Bourges.
Bourges authorities said nearly 5,000 yellow vests stuck to the designated demonstration area. The historical city centre was off-limits for demonstrators, but some 500 protesters made their way to the centre where they scuffled with police and set garbage bins on fire.
Many businesses in Bourges had boarded themselves up to avoid damage and authorities had removed street furniture and building site materials that could be used for barricades.
In Strasbourg, up to 2,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the European Parliament building and later marched to the centre of the city on the Rhine river border with Germany. No serious violence or looting was reported there.
More than 80,000 police were on duty for the protests nationwide, including 5,000 in Paris.
The "yellow vests" take their name from the high-visibility jackets they wear. Their rage stems from a squeeze on household incomes and a belief that Macron, a former investment banker seen as close to big business, is indifferent to their hardships.
Macron, often criticised for a monarchical manner, is to launch a national debate on Jan. 15 to try to mollify the yellow vest protest, which has shaken his administration.
The debate, to be held on the internet and in town halls, will focus on four themes - taxes, green energy, institutional reform and citizenship. But aides to Macron have said changing the course of Macron's reforms aimed at liberalising the economy will be off limits.


Indonesia flood, landslide death toll rises to 30

Updated 6 min 25 sec ago
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Indonesia flood, landslide death toll rises to 30

  • More than 3,000 people have been evacuated and at least 46 are being treated at local hospitals and health clinics
  • In October, flash floods and landslides killed at least 22 people in several districts across Sumatra island

MAKASSAR, Indonesia: The death toll from flash floods and landslides in Indonesia has risen to 30, as rescuers raced to find two dozen still missing, the disaster agency said Thursday.
Thousands have been evacuated from their homes as heavy rain and strong winds pounded the southern part of Sulawesi island, swelling rivers that burst their banks and inundating dozens of communities in nine southern districts.
Parts of the provincial capital Makassar have also been affected.
Rescuers and residents waded through streets filled with waist-deep water, some carrying their belongings above their heads.
“We urge people to always be aware of the possibility of floods and landslides,” said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
Landslides and flooding are common in Indonesia, especially during the monsoon season between October and April, when rain lashes the vast Southeast Asian archipelago.
In October, flash floods and landslides killed at least 22 people in several districts across Sumatra island.
On Thursday, the disaster agency said that while flooding in South Sulawesi province was receding “the search and evacuation process is still ongoing.”
The death toll had stood at 26 on Thursday morning.
More than 3,000 people have been evacuated and at least 46 are being treated at local hospitals and health clinics.
The floods also damaged houses, government buildings, schools and bridges.