French police fire tear gas as protests follow Bastille Day parade

Protesters hurled objects at the police, booed and set bins on fire

epa07716192 A general view of troops marching during the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France, 14 July 2019. Bastille Day, the French National Day, is held annually on 14 July to commemorate the storming of the Bastille fortress in 1789.  EPA/IAN LANGSDON
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French police fired tear gas to disperse protesters on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday, a few hours after President Emmanuel Macron reviewed the traditional Bastille Day military parade alongside other European leaders.

The boulevard was reopened to traffic as soon as the parade finished but a few hundred protesters from the Yellow Vests movement tried to occupy it.

Mr Macron and his guests had already left for the Elysee Palace for lunch.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters, some of whom were hooded and were trying to block the road with metal barricades, dustbins and other debris.

Several loud bangs were heard. Protesters hurled objects at the police, booed and set bins alight. Police drove some of them to adjacent streets, where they regrouped and set up new barricades, drawing more tear gas fire.

A video showed a man kicking a policeman to the ground from behind and punching him after the officer used pepper spray to repel a couple. The policeman and his colleagues fought back with truncheons.

The Police Prefecture said on Twitter it had ordered the protesters to leave the area or be forcibly removed.

Paris Police chief Didier Lallement said during a Sunday evening patrol of the boulevard that order had been restored. He said about 200 rioters had tried to occupy the Champs-Elysees but had been pushed out.

More trouble could be expected on Sunday night when the traditional Bastille Day fireworks were held, Mr Lallement said, while seeking to reassure tourists they would be safe.

Authorities were also bracing for rowdy soccer fans to flood the avenue after Algeria’s African Cup of Nations semi-final match against Nigeria.

On Thursday, some fans looted shops there after Algeria beat Ivory Coast in the quarter-final.

Paris authorities had banned Yellow Vest protests near the parade, but several groups linked to the movement had called for gatherings around the Champs-Elysees on Bastille Day, a national holiday in France.

Earlier, a police source said 152 people linked to the movement were detained near the Champs-Elysees as they tried to stage a demonstration.

The number of Yellow Vest protesters has dwindled to a few hundred recently from a high of about 300,000 nationwide in November when demonstrations started against fuel price rises.

They later became expressions of general discontent against Mr Macron’s policies and government.