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Hundreds of 'yellow vest' protesters are detained in Paris

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Protestors hold a banner which reads 'social winter is coming' during a demonstration in Brussels Saturday Dec. 8 2018. Hundreds of police officers

Already dozens of tax offices across the country have been attacked and mass protests are planned in Paris and other cities.

The "yellow vest" movement has been spurred by anger in small-town and rural France at rising vehicle fuel taxes which were aimed at helping the country transition to a greener economy, but which protesters say hurts the poor.

Several thousand protesters, majority male and dressed in "gilets jaunes", the yellow high-visibility jackets that have become the symbol of the movement, took part in demonstrations, converging on the Champs-Elysees around midday local time.

Crowds of yellow-vested protesters angry at President Emmanuel Macron and France's high taxes tried to march Saturday on the presidential palace, surrounded by exceptional numbers of police bracing for outbreaks of violence after the worst rioting in Paris in decades.

While the number of arrests was higher than last Saturday, the violence and number of injured didn't reach the levels of a week ago when national monuments were trashed and cars burned throughout central Paris.

By midday, as many as 5,000 demonstrators had gathered in Paris' center, according to BBC News.

Trump's false claim that the protesters were inspired by his hatred of the Paris climate agreement was also undermined by the presence of many yellow vests at a climate march in another part of the French capital, where more than 20,000 people demanded action.

Out of the media spotlight, Macron met Friday night with riot police being deployed in Paris Saturday.

"There is a rising of the people's rage, and it's caused by a single reason - the government's policies that only look to take from the poor to keep for the rich", Taha Bouhafs, an activist in Paris told Al Jazeera.

Riot police stand in line during copycat "yellow vest" demonstrations rocking neighbouring France, on December 8, 2018 in Brussels.

A total of 146 people were arrested outside the town's Saint-Exupery high school after protesters clashed with police and burned two cars.

Police spray protestors with pepper spray during a demonstration in Brussels Saturday Dec. 8 2018. Hundreds of police officers are being mobilized
Police spray protestors with pepper spray during a demonstration in Brussels Saturday Dec. 8 2018. Hundreds of police officers are being mobilized

The measures include mobilizing 8,000 police officers in the French capital and closing such famous sites as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum.

Authorities deployed barricade-busting armoured vehicles and 8,000 police in the capital alone.

Shops around the famous Champs-Elysees boulevard - the epicentre of last week's battle - were busy boarding up their windows and emptying them of merchandise on Friday.

Prized Paris monuments and normally bustling shopping meccas were locked down at the height of the holiday shopping season as protesters condemned President Emmanuel Macron and France's high taxes.

The government, as well as most opposition parties and unions have called for calm.

The US embassy issued a warning to Americans in Paris to "keep a low profile and avoid crowds", while Belgium, Portugal and the Czech Republic advised citizens planning to visit Paris over the weekend to postpone their visit.

One of them, Eric Drouet, a truck driver, called on protesters to storm into the Elysee presidential palace.

But many "yellow vests" are urging fresh protests this weekend, saying a string of government concessions are not enough.

Macron announced earlier this week that the planned hikes in petrol and diesel taxes, which sparked the protest movement, would be cancelled outright. They said fellow protesters trying to reach Paris from Toulouse in southern France reported the same problems.

But Macron's office has said he will stick to his decision to cut a "fortune tax" on high-earners, abolished past year in a bid to boost investment.

But his climbdown on fuel taxes - meant to help France transition to a greener economy - marks a major departure for a leader who had prided himself on not giving into street protests.

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