A French yellow vest protester’s hand has been ripped apart during violent clashes in Paris as demonstrators tried to storm the French National Assembly during a 13th consecutive week of unrest.
Police said the injured protester lost four fingers as police swooped in to stop protesters from breaching the parliament’s exterior.
Officers could not confirm French media reports that the hand of the demonstrator, who is now being treated in the hospital, was blown up by a grenade used to disperse unruly crowds.
As scuffles broke out in front of the National Assembly and French police responded with tear gas, paramedics huddled around the injured protester at the National Assembly gates.
Police used batons and fired tear gas in Paris to disperse demonstrators, some of whom threw debris at riot police.
Cars, motorbikes and bins were set ablaze as the protest moved toward the city’s Invalides monument and onto the Eiffel Tower.
French interior minister Christophe Castaner took to Twitter to express his disgust as protesters set alight an anti-terror military car.
Such vehicles have been a common sight in Paris since deadly extremist attacks in 2015.
Castaner said: “Every day the military…protects our compatriots from the risk of terrorism. These attacks are intolerable.”
Police said 31 demonstrators had been arrested. But France’s interior ministry said this week’s protest was significantly smaller than last week’s.
The yellow vest activists, who have brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets over the past three months, are now trying to achieve electoral success but the movement is politically divided and has no appointed leader.
French president Emmanuel Macron – the target of many demonstrators’ anger – seems to be clawing back support from the public as he tries to address the movement’s anger with a national political debate on economic injustice. Recent polls show Mr Macron’s approval ratings are rising.
Earlier on Saturday, activists in Latvia staged a picket in front of the French embassy in Riga, the capital of the small Baltic EU country, to support the yellow vest movement and urge Latvians to demand higher living standards.
The activists waved Latvia’s red-and-white flag, shouting slogans like: “The French have woken up, while Latvians remain asleep.”