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France

Clashes and serious injuries at 13th Yellow Vest protests

media Some 12,000 people demonstrated across France, according to disputed police figures REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Nearly 52,000 people were involved on Saturday in the 13th consecutive weekend of Yellow Vest protests throughout France, according to the interior ministry.

Police fired tear gas as thousands of protesters made their way from the Champs-Elysées towards the Eiffel Tower in central Paris.

An injured protester is given help during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France February 9, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Demonstrator seriously injured in grenade explosion

A demonstrator lost four fingers of his hand during scuffles outside the main parliament building in Paris.

Witnesses told AFP a flash-ball grenade landed near the man's leg and it exploded as he picked it up. He also suffered head injuries.

"He was screaming in pain," said a bystander. "We laid him on his side. He didn't have any fingers left. He didn't have much left above his wrist. It was awful."

Demonstrations amid France-Italy diplomatic spat

Some 80,000 police were deployed for the latest wave of protests which followed a meeting between Christophe Chalencon, one of the leading figures of the gilets jaunes and the Italian deputy Prime Minister, Luigi Di Maio.

Other gilets jaunes luminaries have lambasted the meeting. Maxime Nicolle accused Di Maio of appropriating the gilets jaunes movement.

“You met some people who have created a political party but in no case did you meet the leaders of the gilets jaunes, because there is no leader,” he said.

Photo de Luigi Di Maio avec Gilets Jaunes Twitter Luigi Di Maio

Protesters turned out in the French Mediterranean ports of Marseille and Montpellier as well as in Bordeaux and Toulouse in the south-west - strongholds of the movements - and in several cities in the north and west of France.

Police reported 36 arrests in Paris with 16 held in custody after vehicles were set alight and shops ranskacked.

Nearly 300,000 people poured out onto the streets across France during the first round of yellow vest protests, according to government figures.

Numbers have dwindled since then but the fervour remains as ardent despite President Emmanuel Macron's initiative for a national debate to discuss the plethora of grievances.

"Yes, Macron's national debate is all very well and good," said one demonstrator in Lyon. "But we want things we can actually see and things that will make a difference to our lives.

"We want fewer taxes and our moey to go further. We'll be here every Saturday if necessary."

>> Read RFI's reports on the Yellow vest movement

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