Demonstrator loses hand during Paris rally action

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 11 Feb 2019

A Yellow Vest demonstrator lost most of a hand during clashes with police outside the main parliament building in Paris during a 13th weekend of anti-government protests across France.

Despite a drop in numbers from huge demonstrations in November, tens of thousands still turned out in cities across the country to protest against President Emmanuel Macron's policies.

Clashes broke out outside the National Assembly building in Paris after a march from the Champs-Elysees arrived there. While many demonstrators marched peacefully, some masked activists tried to break down barriers outside the assembly.

Masked men threw projectiles at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

As the march continued, vandals burned rubbish bins and targeted cars - mainly luxury models - cash machines and shops.

One torched car belonged to Sentinelle, France's anti-terrorism unit.

And volunteer medics at the National Assembly said a man had a hand ripped off during the clashes between police and protesters.

Cyprien Royer, 21, who filmed the incident, said the victim was a marcher taking pictures of people trying to break down barriers protecting the entrance to the National Assembly.

Royer said the man was hit on a leg by a type of stun grenade and he "wanted to bat it away so it didn't explode by his leg. And it went off when he touched it.

Police said the man lost four fingers.

Officers had arrested 39 people by Saturday night, but "we mustn't give up," said pensioner Serge Mairesse, on his 11th march with the movement. He carried a placard calling for the reimposition of a wealth tax on high earners that was repealed by Macron.

At a march in the city of Lyon, Benard, a 56-year-old computer technician, expressed doubt about Macron's "great debate" initiative to address people's grievances. "We want something concrete: fewer taxes, more purchasing power," he said.

Interior ministry figures put the turnout across France at 51,400, with 4,000 marching in Paris.

The first Yellow Vest day of protest in November put 282,000 people on to the streets across France, according to government figures.

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