Ex-French boxer surrenders after clash with Paris riot police

Yellow Vest

Many protesters claim they are simply responding to police violence, pointing to a video showing a police captain hitting protesters in the southern city of Toulon at the weekend, and their heavy use of teargas and rubber bullets. "I've chose to step away from the national debate because it will be hard to ensure the calm that's needed for the talks", she said.

In future, Mr Philippe said, the onus would be on "the troublemakers, and not taxpayers, to pay for the damage caused" to businesses and property during the protests which began peacefully in mid-November over taxes but quickly became more radical. "[French President Emmanuel] Macron's government is not up to expectations and some policies are de facto unsafe, not just for the French, but for Europe".

"And faced with ultra-violence, we need to be ultra-severe".

Matteo Salvini, also Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the right-populist League (Lega), said in a statement reported by Agence France-Presse, "I support honest citizens protesting against a president who governs against his people" - though he went on to condemn violence.

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The images of renewed violence and destruction in Paris last Saturday underscored the difficulty of containing a leaderless movement that appeared to be petering out at the end of previous year but has since gained new momentum.

Dettinger handed himself in to police after clashing with officers on a bridge in Paris during an anti-government protest on Saturday.

Mr Macron's prime minister Edouard Philippe has now announced a series of measures to counter the violence.

"I was at my department this afternoon when "yellow vests" smashed the gate with a construction machine found in the street", Griveaux was quoted as saying, before adding, "They also broke some windows and the ministry's cars are unusable". The package, estimated at 10 billion euros ($11.46 billion), includes a 100-euro monthly increase to the minimum salary. Planned changes concern highly inflammatory topics: an overhaul of the indebted pension system and of France's relatively generous unemployment benefits. Macron promised the legal retirement age will remain at 62 but the changes might reduce some other advantages.

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That is likely to be closely scrutinized as he prepares to bring in stricter rules for unemployment benefits and cut thousands of public sector jobs.

Protesters plan to empty their bank accounts on Saturday, withdrawing as much money as possible in a bid to undermine the French banks - if not the euro itself.

Journalists have been repeatedly attacked while covering protests but Sophia Chikirou, a former campaign director for the far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon's La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party, said after earlier disturbances that she feels no sympathy for them. Di Maio wrote in a post on his party's blog.

At the weekend, there were renewed yellow-vest protests after a lull over the festive period.

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