At least 288 people were arrested and some 100 others injured as protests erupted in Paris against rising fuel prices, according to a police spokesperson.
The spokesman told CNN that clashes erupted on Saturday after protesters with the “gilets jaune” or “yellow vest” movement took to the streets to demonstrate against rising gas prices and taxes on polluting forms of transport.
Saturday’s protests marked the third consecutive week of such demonstrations, although with an estimated 36,500 participants across the country they were smaller than those in weeks past, according to the French Interior Ministry.
Last week about 53,000 participated and there were about 113,000 the week before.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Twitter Saturday that 1,500 “troublemakers” had infiltrated a group of about 200 peaceful protesters and had “come to fight” near the Champs Elysees.
Footage shared by French police showed a few demonstrators striking a police vehicle and smashing its windshield.
Other videos captured burning cars and police firing tear gas to disperse protesters.
Rising fuel prices were largely attributed to a leap in the wholesale price of oil, CNN reported.
Brent crude oil — a benchmark for worldwide oil purchases — increased by more than 20 per cent in the first half of the year, from around $60 a barrel to $86.07 in early October.
But the protests have evolved into a broader demonstration against French President Emmanuel Macron, his government and tensions between the metropolitan elite and rural poor.
The violent protests and vandalism in Paris have “absolutely nothing to do with the peaceful demonstrations of a legitimate unhappiness or discontent”, Macron told the media on Saturday in Buenos Aires, where he’s attending the G20 summit.
Those responsible will be identified and taken to court, he added.