WION Web Team Paris, France
Mar 16, 2019, 08.37 PM
Yellow vest protesters gathered in far greater numbers than in recent weeks for the 18th round of demonstrations on Saturday, set fire to a bank and ransacking a high-end restaurant in Paris on Saturday.
The protestors promising to pile on the pressure on President Emmanuel Macron's government so that their demands are met, quickly turned violent, hurling projectiles at police. Two newspaper kiosks were also set ablaze by the protestors.
Police used tear gas and water canon on protesters, who fought back and attacked a police van.
The Bank Tarneaud branch was located near Champs Elysees, the central axe of the weekly protests.
News agency Reuters reported that the police had arrested more than 80 protesters by mid-afternoon as demonstrators looted stores around the Champs Elysees.
French Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, said the protests were small compared to a few weeks ago, with only 8,000 people participating in Paris.
Condemning the violence, he said it was his responsibility to "maintain public order" and provide a "proportionate but very firm response."
Macron's government ordered police to crack down on the protests in January, leading to complaints of police brutality after a series of injuries.
Saturday's demonstration quickly turned violent, with protesters hurling projectiles at police, ransacking stores and burning structures, including Bank Tarneaud and two newspaper kiosks