French police have fired tear gas at protesters during a tense standoff in central Paris in the aftermath of the annual Bastille Day military parade on the capital’s iconic Champs-Elysees.
The boulevard in central Paris was reopened to traffic as soon as the parade finished on Sunday, but a few hundred protesters from the grassroots “yellow vests” movement tried to occupy it.
Police officers attempted to disperse the protesters, who chanted anti-government slogans, knocked down security barriers erected for the parade, hurled objects at the police and set fire to refuse bins.
France‘s BFM TV showed images of police firing tear gas to disperse the protesters, some hooded, who tried to block the road with metal barricades, dustbins and debris. Several loud bangs could be heard.
Earlier, French police and court sources said some 152 protesters, whom they linked to the ‘yellow vest’ movement, were detained near the Champs-Elysees as they tried to stage a protest.
Sunday’s violence was the worst seen in central Paris since March. It came when many analysts believed the yellow vest movement had lost its momentum.
The demonstrators in central Paris, however, were not wearing the yellow vests that marked out the movement. Police had not allowed those wearing the garments past barriers, while some carried yellow balloons instead.
The clashes tarnished the July 14 national holiday that commemorates the 1789 storming of the Bastille fortress in Paris during the French Revolution and is marked every year by a military parade.
President Emmanuel Macron sought to showcase European military cooperation in the parade, hosting key European Union leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.