French riot police fought street battles with "yellow vest" protesters in central Paris on Saturday, December 1, in a third weekend of nationwide unrest against high living costs that pose one of the most serious challenges to Emmanuel Macron's presidency.
In Paris, police said they had arrested almost 300 people while almost 100 were injured as protesters hurled projectiles at riot officers, burned cars and smashed shop fronts.
In some areas, groups of masked men roamed freely, smashing properties, burning cars and vandalising banks.
Macron, in Argentina for a G20 summit, said he would convene ministers to discuss the crisis upon his return on Sunday (December 2).
The popular rebellion erupted out of nowhere on Nov. 17 and spread quickly via social media, with protesters blocking roads across France and impeding access to shopping malls, factories and some fuel depots.
On Saturday, some targeted the Arc de Triomphe and the streets that emanated from its rotunda, one of which is the iconic Champs Elysees.
The skirmishes in Paris broke out early on Saturday, amid concern that violent far-right and far-left groups were infiltrating the "Gilets Jaunes" (yellow vests) movement.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said most of those arrested were regular "yellow vests" who had been egged on by the fringe groups bent on stirring trouble.
The "yellow vest" protests began as a backlash against Macron's fuel tax hikes, but have tapped into a vein of deep dissatisfaction felt towards the 40-year-old's economic reforms, which many voters feel favour the wealthy and big business.
The protesters say they will come to Paris every weekend until the government aborts the fuel tax, a cornerstone of an energy policy that aims to lower carbon emissions and hasten the switch to renewable sources.
The yellow vests get their name from the high-visibility jackets all motorists in France must carry in their vehicles.
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