French ‘yellow vest’ protester loses fingers in violent clashes

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Paris, Feb 10 (IANS) A “yellow vest” protester in France had his fingers ripped off during violent clashes at the Parliament building in Paris, as the anti-government protests entered its 13th week, the media reported on Sunday.

According to French media reports, the incident took place on Saturday when the protester attempted to pick up a rubber pellet grenade and it exploded in his hand, reports the BBC.

According to French government figures, 51,400 people joined the protests on Saturday, 4,000 of them in Paris. That was down from the previous week, when official figures put the number at 58,600, 10,500 in the capital city.

In Paris, the protesters marched from the Champs-Elysees to the city’s Parliament buildings, where a violent contingent broke down barriers and threw projectiles at police.

The police responded with tear gas and anti-riot munitions.

Tens of thousands of protesters turned out in other parts of France, including the port cities of Marseille and Montpellier and also in Bordeaux and Toulouse in the southwest.

Eight police officers were lightly injured during clashes with protesters in Bordeaux.

There was also an arson attack on the home of Richard Ferrand, the head of France’s National Assembly, though it was not clear if the attack was linked to the protests, the BBC reported.

Ferrand published pictures on Twitter of his scorched living room, writing: “Nothing justifies intimidations and violence towards an elected official of the Republic.”

What began as anti-fuel tax protests in November 2018, the yellow vests – who owe their sobriquet to the high-visibility jackets the protesters wear – have since morphed into catch-all demonstrations against the French government and President Emmanuel Macron.

But since the government decided to delay the increase in fuel taxes and Macron announced measures favouring purchasing power, the number of participants has dropped radically.

Their demands, however, have multiplied, with yellow vests carrying posters calling for “Frexit” – the exit of France from the European Union – while others were looking for “a better world” and some also requesting Macron’s resignation.

The law passed by the National Assembly this week that called for more measures to be taken against violence occurring on the fringes of the movement, which is attributed to far-right and far-left groups, was also one of the main targets of the yellow vests, who call it “freedomcide”.



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