FRANCE PROTESTS: EIFFEL TOWER TO CLOSE ON SATURDAY AMID PARIS RIOT FEARS
Last Updated: 2018-12-07
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PARIS, Dec 7 (NNN-AGENCIES) -- The Eiffel Tower in Paris is to close on Saturday amid fears of further street violence from "yellow vest" anti-government protests.

Across France, 89,000 police officers will be on duty and armoured vehicles will be deployed in the capital, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced.

Police have urged shops and restaurants on Paris's Champs-Elysees to shut and some museums will also be closed.

Paris saw some of the worst rioting in decades last Saturday.

The government has said it is scrapping unpopular fuel tax increases in its budget - the original trigger for the protests.

But broader discontent with the government has spread and protests have erupted over other issues.

An official with the interior ministry said authorities were braced for "significant violence" on Saturday, with activists from both the far right and far left planning to converge on the capital.

In an interview with TV channel TF1, Philippe said 8,000 police would be deployed in Paris as well as a dozen armoured vehicles.

He repeated an appeal for calm but added: "We are facing people who are not here to protest, but to smash and we want to have the means to not give them a free rein."

The operator of the Eiffel Tower said the threat of violent protests on Saturday made it impossible to ensure "adequate security conditions".

City authorities say they are stepping up protection for famous landmarks after the Arc de Triomphe was damaged last week.

Culture Minister Franck Riester said the Louvre and Orsay museums, opera houses and the Grand Palais complex were among sites that would be closed.

Police have asked stores and restaurants along the Champs-Elysees and other major shopping streets to stay closed and to remove any outdoor items such as tables and chairs.

A series of football matches have also been postponed on Saturday. They include those between Paris and Montpellier, Monaco and Nice, Toulouse and Lyon, and Saint-Etienne and Marseille.

On Thursday young people took to the streets, protesting over education reforms.

More than 140 people were arrested when a protest outside a school in Mantes-la-Jolie in Yvelines ended in clashes with police. Dozens of other schools were blockaded in cities including Marseille, Nantes and Paris.

Students have been angered by President Emmanuel Macron's plans to change the end-of-school exam, known as the baccalaureate, which is required for entrance to university.

Critics fear the reforms will limit opportunity and breed inequality. -- NNN-AGENCIES