Macron mulls state of emergency to curb riots

Paris protests France to consider imposing state of emergency

He also met with police officers and firefighters who worked to contain the protests, BFMTV said.

Paris looked more like a war zone as activists torched cars, smashed windows and looted shops in protest at rising taxes and the high cost of living on Saturday.

There were reports of violent clashes in Toulouse, Nantes, and Nice, but the worst of the violence was in Paris, where there have been more than 270 arrests Saturday and at least 100 people injured, the Interior Ministry said. Of the 133 people who were injured, 23 of those were police officers.

President Emmanuel Macron, speaking from the G20 summit in Argentina said is holding emergency meetings on the unrest.

He did however say the government had made a mistake in how it communicated its plans to move away from oil dependence, the policy which led to fuel tax hikes.

He said "no cause justifies attacks on police or pillaging stores and burning buildings".

He confirmed that by Saturday night, the situation in Paris had eased, although had not been "totally secured".

Authorities were caught off guard by Saturday's escalation in violence overshadowing the spontaneous protest movement, dubbed the "yellow vests" because many participants are wearing the fluorescent safety jackets kept in all cars in France.

He was asked why thousands of French police couldn't prevent the damage, especially to the Arc de Triomphe.

French authorities said they counted 75,000 protesters Saturday across the country, including 5,500 in Paris, numbers that were less than last week's protest but produced much more violence. A video on social media shows the heavy fence falling on some protesters. The Champs Elysees will be closed to traffic and pedestrians funneled through checkpoints.

Pockets of protesters built barricades in the middle of streets in Paris, lit fires and threw rocks at police.

Undeterred by strictly controlled access to the Champs-Elysees, the scene of serious rioting at a protest a week earlier, mobs dispersed to other central areas, often unprotected.

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Some tried to cross the security barriers to the Elysee Palace but police blocked them using tear gas.

While some demonstrators have remained peaceful, others clashed violently with police and scaled the Arc de Triomphe. Hours later, auto after vehicle still smoldered.

The demonstrations, which began over taxes and grew to include a number of anti-government concerns, such as overall quality of life deteriorations in the country, represent the worst crisis so far of French President Emmanuel Macron's term.

The so-called "yellow vest" anti-government protests that have swept France over the last fortnight were sparked initially by a rise in taxes on diesel.

David Michaux, of the UNSA police union, said far-right and far-left groups were expected at the protests.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen urged the protesters to go home in a tweet.

Some 136,000 demonstrators, majority peaceful, were counted across the country on Saturday, the interior ministry said Sunday.

The violence broke out early after crowds began gathering at the Arc de Triomphe, where they found the Champs Elysees on lockdown by police manning barricades and water cannons.

He said: "There is a strategy being managed by professional rioters, who are seeking to smash things".

Meanwhile, hundreds of peaceful protesters were present on the famed avenue inside a perimeter secured by police through identity checks and bag inspections.

According to The New York Times demonstrators say the French government "talks about the end of the world while we are talking about the end of the month".

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