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France

Yellow Vests: Paris security chiefs given the boot after Champs-Elysées riots

media People stand in front of a damaged Tara Jarmon shop after a demonstration by the yellow vest movement on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

After the sacking of Paris' head of police, two more security officials were given the boot on Tuesday in the wake of violent riots that saw a string of flagship restaurants and shops torched along the Champs-Elysées at the weekend.

Frédéric Dupuch, the head of security, and Pierre Gaudin, the cabinet director of former police chief Michel Delpuech, became the latest figures to be dismissed on Tuesday, for their roles in failing to prevent a weekend of violence.

On Saturday, several hundred black-clad rioters disrupted the 18th consecutive Saturday of yellow vest demonstrations, looting and pillaging stores, in front of groups of often passive policemen on the famed shopping avenue in central Paris.

The government has criticized "the chain of command" of the Paris police that gave “inappropriate” instructions on the use of rubber bullets to officers.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner for his part, has regretted the "inhibition" of his security officers, saying that they did not follow instructions.

Senate summons Castaner

While seen as too lax on Saturday, French police have been accused on other weekends of being too heavy-handed, highlighting the government’s difficulty in managing the crisis.

Minister Castaner himself is under renewed scrutiny with calls for his resignation from some in the opposition Republicans party.

The fact that this long-time ally of President Macron was spotted at a nightclub on the day of protests, has further sharpened criticism against him.

To calm tempers, the French authorities on Monday appointed a new head of police to replace Michel Delpuech. His successor, Didier Lallement, is considered a man "of steel" who should "restore order where it is necessary," says Castaner.

As for the interior minister, he was due to appear before the Senate, the upper house of the French parliament, later on Tuesday, along with the economy minister Bruno Le Maire, to explain the "gravity" of last weekend's violence.

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