French ‘yellow vests’ march through Paris denouncing police violence

Members of the French "yellow vests" movement wave French flags as they attend a demonstration against police violence, at a demonstration in Paris, France, February 2, 2019. Sign reads, "Emmanuel Macron - look at your Rolex - It's the time of Revolt". (Reuters)
Updated 03 February 2019
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French ‘yellow vests’ march through Paris denouncing police violence

  • France’s Council of State has ruled Friday that security forces have a right to use controversial high-velocity rubber ball launchers for crowd control
  • The government says around 2,000 people have been injured in protests since the movement began Nov. 17

PARIS: Several thousand "yellow vest" protesters marched through Paris and other French cities on Saturday on the 12th weekend of action against the government despite opinion polls pointing to a recovery in President Emmanuel Macron's popularity.
The protests - named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to carry in their cars - began in mid-November over plans to raise fuel taxes before developing into a broader revolt against the government that mobilised tens of thousands of demonstrators nationwide each Saturday.
The government warned on Friday police would not hesitate to use flashballs in case of violence by demonstrators after it was authorised by France's highest administrative court.
Protesters on Saturday paid homage to those injured in the past months, denouncing the use of flashball riot control guns banned in much of Europe.
About 1,000 police officers have been injured along with 1,700 demonstrators since the start of the protests, according to official figures.
"It's true that this intermediate weapon can hurt, but faced with rioters, the police need it to defend themselves against those who attack them," said Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.
Opinion polls show a recovery in Macron's battered popularity rating after he launched consultations, including townhall debates, to try to quell social unrest.
A Harris Interactive poll of 1,000 people on Friday showed Macron gaining 4 percentage points since December taking him to a 35 percent approval rating.
As in previous weeks, protesters on Saturday carried French flags and held signs attacking Macron as out of touch or calling for referendums tabled by citizens.
Protesters injured in previous weeks of violence were put at the front of the protests with some wearing eye patches with a target sign on them.
In Valance in the south of France, the mayor said measures had been taken to prepare for about 10,000 demonstrators. Authorities fear about 10 percent of those could be violent rioters.
The Interior Ministry said 80,000 security officials had been mobilised, including 5,000 in Paris.


Two US service members killed in Afghanistan

Updated 13 min 9 sec ago
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Two US service members killed in Afghanistan

  • The US military’s mission is focused on guiding and aiding Afghan forces battling the Taliban
  • Violence has been relentless in the country, despite ongoing talks between the Taliban and the US

KABUL: Two US service members were killed in Afghanistan on Friday while conducting an operation, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said in a statement.
It gave no further details and withheld the names of the service members until next of kin were informed.
The US military’s mission is focused on guiding and aiding Afghan forces battling the Taliban, who were ousted from power in 2001.
Violence has been relentless in Afghanistan even though Taliban militants have held several rounds of talks with US officials about a peace settlement.
The latest talks wrapped up this month with both sides citing progress, but no agreement to end the 17-year war.
The Resolute Support Mission consists of 17,000 troops, about half of them from the United States.