Yellow vests storm French ministry

A Yellow Vest protester kicks away tear gas in Nantes

A Yellow Vest protester kicks away tear gas in Nantes

Protesters were looking to breathe new life into the yellow vest movement as numbers of participants fell since the first Saturday protest in mid-November.

In recent weeks, some of the protests have turned into major riots described as the most violent clashes in France in decades.

Police boats patrolled the river while beyond the Seine, motorcycles and a vehicle were set on fire on the Boulevard Saint Germain.

"We are very numerous in the demonstrations, on the roundabouts because we are more affected by precarious work".

Clashes later broke out in and around the Champs-Élysées Avenue in the early evening, with television broadcasts showing several burned cars on a side street.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said he had to leave his office after the gate of his ministry's building was forced open by people who stole a forklift truck from the street outside.

The police officer - a commander who was granted France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur, on January 1 - was referred to investigators at the weekend after appearing to punch a protester in the face several times. It was the institutions, the democratic form of government, " Griveaux said later, explaining on French TV that he and a half-dozen colleagues were taken out a back door while a group attacked the front door with construction equipment.

But radical leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has backed the protest movement that initially sought - with success - the cancellation of planned fuel tax rises, took a different view. Protesters have tried to reach the presidential Elysee Palace, which is protected like a bunker.

There were no reports of violence on the eighth consecutive Saturday of yellow vest protests, in contrast to some December demonstrations that degenerated into chaotic violence.

Sweden's ambassador to France called on neighbors to help put out a small fire lit outside the Swedish Embassy during Saturday's protests.

Police fired tear gas in the capital after protesters threw projectiles at police and AFP journalists saw minor scuffles near the River Seine as up to 4,000 joined the fray in the city by the afternoon, according to police.

Protests were also held in other French cities.

One of the officers is then beaten by other protesters wearing yellow vests before being rescued by fellow riot police in protective equipment and helmets.

The yellow vest campaign was launched following fuel tax hikes affecting working people who commute by vehicle.

Saudi woman held at Bangkok airport fears death if returned to family
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim abruptly resigns