UPDATE – France: Fuel rise protests continue across country

UPDATES WITH STATEMENT OF PM EDOUARD PHILIPPE, ADDS LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

By Yusuf Ozcan

PARIS (AA) – French police used tear gas and water cannons on Saturday to disperse protests against a hike in fuel prices that turned violent in Paris.

Thousands of "yellow vest" protesters have gathered in Paris for the last two weeks to protest French President Emmanuel Macron's controversial fuel tax.

During Saturday's protests, the yellow vests entered the famous Champs-Elysées Street throwing stones and bottles at the police and setting public property ablaze.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a statement that around 5,500 protesters marched onto streets in Paris.

According to local media, 115 protestors were arrested during the demonstrations and 20 people, including six police officers, were wounded.

Restaurants, cafes and shops around Champs-Elysées Street were shut down. Roads were closed for traffic in the surrounding areas and the metro service was stopped.

Some 5,000 police officers are on duty in Paris.

Macron has been criticized for his pro-rich reforms which have made the lives of the lower- and middle-income group difficult.

According to a survey conducted in the country, 84 percent of French people support the yellow vests, mostly from the middle-income group.

So far, at least two people have been killed and over 780 people injured, 794 detained, and nine sentenced during over a week of demonstrations.

In France, fuel prices have increased by more than 20 percent in the last year.

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