Saturday 23 February 2019

Rival 'yellow vest' groups clash violently in France

Riot police run past burning dustbins set on fire by yellow vest protesters during a 13th straight weekend of demonstrations. Photo: AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu
Riot police run past burning dustbins set on fire by yellow vest protesters during a 13th straight weekend of demonstrations. Photo: AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu

David Chazan

A vicious street brawl between rival "yellow vest" factions has highlighted bitter divisions among the anti-government protesters as the speaker of the national assembly warned of violence engulfing French politics.

Dozens of far-right supporters and ultra-leftists taking part in "yellow vest" protests fought with fists, rocks and sticks in the eastern city of Lyon at the weekend.

The violence was seen as further evidence of widening splits within the leaderless grassroots movement.

The protesters are united only in their opposition to Emmanuel Macron, the president, and often make radically different demands of his government.

Clashes with police erupted across France, with protesters torching cars and smashing the windows of shops and banks. In Montpellier, in the south, a 12-year-old boy was detained for allegedly aiming a catapult at police HQ.

An amateur photographer had four fingers blown off in Paris, reportedly by a stun grenade thrown by police at protesters.

About 55,000 gilets jaunes (yellow vests) joined the protests on Saturday, with more than 5,000 in Paris. The numbers have dwindled over the weeks, with some put off by violence and attacks on public monuments.

Irish Independent

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