PARIS: Demonstrators looted and torched shops and businesses on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on Saturday, on the 18th straight weekend of “yellow vest” protests, characterised by an uptick in violence after weeks of dwindling turnout.
A Boss menswear store and the upscale Fouquet’s restaurant — a brasserie popular with politicians and film stars — were among the premises to have their windows smashed by groups of hooded demonstrators in scenes reminiscent of the worst “yellow vest” riots in Paris in December.
The demonstrators also set fire to a bank situated on the ground floor of an apartment building, which was engulfed by flames. The fire service evacuated the residents and extinguished the blaze. Eleven people, including two firefighters, suffered minor injuries, the fire service told AFP.
A mother of four children, including a nine-month-old baby, told AFP they escaped via the stairs after seeing the fire from their window.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner in a tweet accused the arsonists of being “neither demonstrators nor trouble-makers” but “murderers”.
Eighty-two people had been arrested by the early afternoon, the police said.
The protests came a day after President Emmanuel Macron arrived in the southwestern Pyrenees mountains with his wife Brigitte for a short ski break, an AFP photographer reported.
“I’m going to spend two to three days here to rest and rediscover landscapes and faces that are dear to me,” Macron told La Depeche du Midi newspaper.