110 wounded in violence in Paris anti-fuel protest: minister

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PARIS, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Saturday said 110 people were injured after a third weekend nationwide social movement, opposing higher tax and poor revenue, turned violent and plunged the world's top tourist destination into chaos.

Speaking to BFMTV news channel, Castaner added 20 police officers suffered from injuries and one "Yellow Vests" protester was seriously wounded and remained in critical situation.

Groups of masked young men, carrying projectiles had been mixed with peaceful demonstrators in Parisian streets, hijacking the popular social movement created on social media earlier this month to denounce the government's fiscal policy and economic strategy which they say favoured the rich and squeezed purchasing power of low-income citizens.

Videos showed the capital's vibrant avenues turned into battle field. Overturned vehicles were in flames around the Arc de Triomphe, shop-fronts including those of Channel and Dior were smashed and Christmas trees were torched, forcing the closure of dozens of metro stations.

According to the French minister 3,000 troublemakers, among them far-right and hard-left supporters, had orchestrated a day of "scandalous" violent rioting that led to the arrest of 263 people.

Castaner added the situation in Place de l'Etoile, the Champs Elysees and adjacent streets "are under control."

Tear gas clouds rose into the air above L'Arc de Triomphe and the Place de L'Etoile where first clashes between police and protesters broke out early Saturday after a small group of "Yellow Vests" tried to break through security cordons.

Police responded with tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to disperse the crowd that used barriers to form barricades in a renewed standoff.

During a press conference in Buenos Aires, where he was attending the G20 summit, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced violence and said he would convene a meeting with concerned ministers when he returned home on Sunday.

"No cause justifies that security forces are attacked, shops pillaged, public or private buildings set on fire, pedestrians or journalists threatened or that the Arc de Triomphe is sullied," the president said.

"The responsible of this violence do not want change. They do not want any improvement. They want chaos ... They will be identified and be accountable before justice... I will always respect the protest, I will always listen to opposition, but I will never accept the violence," he stressed.

Taking their name from the high visibility vests drivers keep in their cars, the "Yellow Vests" was spontaneous action created after several groups have called for blockades and go-slow operations across the country to oppose higher fuel tax and the rise in diesel's price, the most commonly used car fuel in France.

For more than two weeks, they have blocked highways in many regions, obstructed access to fuel depots, shopping centers and some factories, in a move to force Macron to bow to their requests of higher revenue and removal of fuel tax.

In a third weekend country-wide protests, 75,000 people took part in demonstrations across France by 15:00 local time (1400 GMT). Last Saturday, the movement drew 106,300 protesters, official figures showed. Enditem

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