By Stefan J. Bos
Scuffles broke out Saturday in central Paris between “yellow vest” protesters and police. Security forces fired tear gas to disperse a crowd trying to break through police lines.
The violence began in a side street near the capital’s famed Champs-Elysees boulevard. Riot police blocked off access to some roads, attempting to keep the protests in specific areas.
Authorities say that scores of people have been detained. They were also investigating reports that Russian social media trolls were apparently involved in stoking the French "yellow vest" protests, for instance by disseminating disinformation like faked protest pictures.
Elsewhere a middle-aged man died after he crashed his car into a truck at a protesters’ roadblock on the Franco-Belgian border.
The accident brings to seven the number of protest-related deaths since a wave of anti-government yellow vest demonstrations began sweeping France last month.
Saturday marks the fifth straight weekend of demonstrations by the “yellow vest” movement, which takes its name from the safety vests French motorists carry in their vehicles.
It emerged mid-November as a protest against fuel tax increases but has since expanded into an expression of rage against the government.
The rallies come despite this week's pledges by President Emmanuel Macron to raise the minimum wage and to make tax concessions.
Initially, it was unclear whether Saturday's protests could go ahead as police hunted a man believed to be responsible for killing three people and wounding many more in the French city of Strasbourg this week.
He was shot to death by police late Thursday, bringing a tense, two-day manhunt to an end. On Friday news emerged that a fourth person had later died as a result of his shooting attack this week at Strasbourg's famed Christmas market.