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French yellow vest anti-govt protests turn violent in Paris

Published
A burning command car belonging to France's anti-terror 'Vigipirate' squad, dubbed 'Operation Sentinelle', is pictured during a demonstration as yellow vests protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

PARIS (AP) — A French yellow vest protester's hand was ripped apart Saturday during violent clashes in Paris as demonstrators tried to storm the French National Assembly in a 13th consecutive week of unrest.

Police said the injured protester lost four fingers as police swooped in to stop protesters from breaching the parliament's exterior. Police could not confirm French media reports that the hand of the demonstrator, who is now being treated in the hospital, was blown up by a grenade used to disperse unruly crowds.

As scuffles broke out in front of the National Assembly and French police responded with tear gas, paramedics huddled around the injured protester at the National Assembly gates.

Police used batons and fired tear gas in Paris to disperse demonstrators, some of whom threw debris at riot police. Cars, motorbikes and trash bins were set ablaze as the protest moved toward the city's Invalides monument and onto the Eiffel Tower.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner went to Twitter to express his "disgust" as protesters set alight an anti-terror military car. Its yellow smoking plumes, against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, made for a powerful image of rejecting authority.

Such vehicles have been a common sight in Paris since deadly extremist attacks in 2015.

"Every day the military ... protects our compatriots from the risk of terrorism. These attacks are intolerable," Castaner said.

Police said 31 demonstrators had been arrested in the unrest. But France's Interior Ministry said this week's protest was significantly smaller than last week's.

The yellow vest activists, who have brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets over the past three months, are now trying to achieve electoral success but the movement is politically divided and has no appointed leader.

French President Emmanuel Macron — the target of many demonstrators' anger — seems to be clawing back support from the public as he tries to address the movement's anger with a national political debate on economic injustice. Recent polls show Macron's approval ratings are rising.

Earlier Saturday, activists in Latvia staged a picket in front of the French embassy in Riga, the capital of the small Baltic EU country, to support the yellow vest movement and urge Latvians to demand higher living standards.

The activists waved Latvia's red-and-white flag, shouting slogans like "the French have woken up, while Latvians remain asleep."

___

Jari Tanner in Helsinki contributed to this report.

Riot police run past burning dustbins set on fire by yellow vest protesters as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Emergency services attend to a Yellow vest protester who has a serious hand injury during clashes with riot police in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. Yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, during demonstrations for the 13th straight weekend. (AP Photo)
Yellow vest protesters walk down the famed Champs Elysees avenue to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters take part in a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters brandish national flags as they gather around the Arc de Triomphe to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A woman sits down as other yellow vest protesters gather on the famed Champs Elysees avenue to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Emergency services attend to a Yellow vest protester who has a serious hand injury in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. Yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, during demonstrations for the 13th straight weekend. (AP Photo)
Yellow vest protesters dismantle construction fences to set up a barricade during clashes with riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A vandalized Porsche car is pictured during scuffles with riot police as the yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters walks towards a burning makeshift barricade during scuffles with riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A yellow vest protester walks through a cloud of tear gas during scuffles in front of the National Assembly, on background, during a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A yellow vest protester tries to tear down a picture stuck on fence surrounded the National Assembly depicting French speaker Richard Ferrand, left, posing with lawmakers during a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Riot police take position along a fence depicting the renovation project of the National Assembly during scuffles with yellow vests protester keeping pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow flowers are seen on the top of a mast displaying the French national flag as yellow vest protesters gather around the Arc de Triomphe to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters walk down the famed Champs Elysees avenue to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A yellow vest protester waves his national flag in front of the Trocadero fountains during a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters run away from tear gas fired by riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Demonstrators walk past a smashed bulletproof glass barrier, surrounding the Eiffel Tower, as yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters dismantle construction fences to set up a barricade during clashes with riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A yellow vest protester tries to tear down a picture stuck on fence surrounded the National Assembly depicting French speaker Richard Ferrand, left, posing with lawmakers during a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A yellow vest protester tries to tear down a picture stuck on fence surrounded the National Assembly depicting French speaker Richard Ferrand, left, posing with lawmakers during a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Emergency services attend to a Yellow vest protester who has a serious hand injury during clashes with riot police in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. Yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, during demonstrations for the 13th straight weekend. (AP Photo)
Emergency services attend to a Yellow vest protester who has a serious hand injury during clashes with riot police in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. Yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, during demonstrations for the 13th straight weekend. (AP Photo)
Demonstrators walk past a smashed bulletproof glass barrier, surrounding the Eiffel Tower, as yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Demonstrators walk past a smashed bulletproof glass barrier, surrounding the Eiffel Tower, as yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Riot police run past burning dustbins set on fire by yellow vest protesters as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Riot police run past burning dustbins set on fire by yellow vest protesters as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A yellow vest protester waves his national flag in front of the Trocadero fountains during a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A yellow vest protester waves his national flag in front of the Trocadero fountains during a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow flowers are seen on the top of a mast displaying the French national flag as yellow vest protesters gather around the Arc de Triomphe to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow flowers are seen on the top of a mast displaying the French national flag as yellow vest protesters gather around the Arc de Triomphe to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters brandish national flags as they gather around the Arc de Triomphe to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters brandish national flags as they gather around the Arc de Triomphe to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A woman sits down as other yellow vest protesters gather on the famed Champs Elysees avenue to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A woman sits down as other yellow vest protesters gather on the famed Champs Elysees avenue to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Riot police take position along a fence depicting the renovation project of the National Assembly during scuffles with yellow vests protester keeping pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Riot police take position along a fence depicting the renovation project of the National Assembly during scuffles with yellow vests protester keeping pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters dismantle construction fences to set up a barricade during clashes with riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters dismantle construction fences to set up a barricade during clashes with riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters walk down the famed Champs Elysees avenue to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters walk down the famed Champs Elysees avenue to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A burning command car belonging to France's anti-terror 'Vigipirate' squad, dubbed 'Operation Sentinelle', is pictured during a demonstration as yellow vests protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A burning command car belonging to France's anti-terror 'Vigipirate' squad, dubbed 'Operation Sentinelle', is pictured during a demonstration as yellow vests protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters dismantle construction fences to set up a barricade during clashes with riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters dismantle construction fences to set up a barricade during clashes with riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A vandalized Porsche car is pictured during scuffles with riot police as the yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A vandalized Porsche car is pictured during scuffles with riot police as the yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters run away from tear gas fired by riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters run away from tear gas fired by riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters take part in a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters take part in a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Emergency services attend to a Yellow vest protester who has a serious hand injury in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. Yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, during demonstrations for the 13th straight weekend. (AP Photo)
Emergency services attend to a Yellow vest protester who has a serious hand injury in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. Yellow vest protesters keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, during demonstrations for the 13th straight weekend. (AP Photo)
Yellow vest protesters walks towards a burning makeshift barricade during scuffles with riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters walks towards a burning makeshift barricade during scuffles with riot police as they keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A yellow vest protester walks through a cloud of tear gas during scuffles in front of the National Assembly, on background, during a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A yellow vest protester walks through a cloud of tear gas during scuffles in front of the National Assembly, on background, during a demonstration to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters walk down the famed Champs Elysees avenue to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Yellow vest protesters walk down the famed Champs Elysees avenue to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron's government, for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)