Tuesday 17 September 2019

Paris bracing for 'ultra-violent' riots as city in lockdown

Yellow vests hang on the rooftop and at windows of an apartment building in Marseille, southern France. Across the country, France is mobilizing some 89,000 police, up from 65,000 last weekend when more than 130 people were injured and over 400 arrested as protests degenerated into the worst street violence to hit Paris in decades. Photo: AP
Yellow vests hang on the rooftop and at windows of an apartment building in Marseille, southern France. Across the country, France is mobilizing some 89,000 police, up from 65,000 last weekend when more than 130 people were injured and over 400 arrested as protests degenerated into the worst street violence to hit Paris in decades. Photo: AP

Henry Samuel

Paris is bracing for a day of "ultra-violent" unrest today as moderate figureheads of the 'yellow vest' movement urged protesters to stay away from the French capital.

The city is preparing for lockdown with a string of stores, museums and landmarks, including the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Galeries Lafayette shut for security reasons.

Luxury boutiques, restaurants and businesses on the Champs-Élysées and around the presidential palace are under orders to close. Many were being boarded up around the capital.

Six French league football games have been cancelled around France.

"According to our information, radicalised and rebellious people will try to mobilise," warned Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.

While he said the protesters would only number "several thousand," he added: "Some ultra-violent people want to take part." He did not rule out "foreign" agitators being among them.

An unprecedented 89,000 police and gendarmes will be deployed around the country today, a third more than last weekend, in an attempt to avoid a repeat of those riots - the worst since the 1968 student uprising.

One woman has been arrested in possession of two firearms after posting a message saying: "A good cop is a dead cop."

Elsewhere in France, police said they seized 28 petrol bombs at a roundabout in Montauban near Toulouse, as well as three homemade bombs.

Around 8,000 security forces will guard landmarks in Paris where rioters last weekend torched 200 cars, looted shops and vandalised the Arc de Triomphe.

For the first time in decades, they will bring in 12 armoured vehicles able to clear burning barricades.

Criticised for being too static, forces are expected to adopt a more mobile formation, though Mr Castaner said he would provide no details that would help vandals.

Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said police have also been given the power to carry out stop-and-search checks at any "sensitive points" in the city.

Security forces were cited by French media as fearing a cocktail of far-right and left militants, infuriated provincial 'yellow vests' with no prior history of clashing with police and looters from the deprived suburbs.

Telegraph.co.uk

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