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A DOZEN Berliet VXB-170s will be deployed against thousands of demonstrators who have pledged to bring chaos to the capital, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed. The Berliet VXB-170s are usually equipped with a 7.62mm machine gun and a 56mm Alsetex Cougar grenade launcher.
The Yellow Vests – fuel price protesters named after their high visibility jackets – will be joined by groups from the far-Right and the hard-Left in a mass show of anger against President Emmanuel Macron‘s administration on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Eiffel Tower will be closed, 8,000 police officers will be deployed in the French capital and 14 ‘high-risk’ sectors will be cleared out – including one containing the world-renowned and glitzy Champs-Elysees avenue.
Across the country some 89,000 police will be mobilised, up from 65,000 last weekend when more than 130 people were injured and over 400 were arrested in the worst street violence seen in the country in decades. And authorities have also cancelled six French league soccer matches this weekend around the country.
‘We will use a dozen armoured gendarmerie vehicles because we have in front of us people who are not there to demonstrate but to smash up,’ Mr Philippe said on a live interview on TF1.
The Berliet VXB-170s are usually equipped with a 7.62mm machine gun and a 56mm Alsetex Cougar grenade launcher.
They are designed to break down barricades and to advance on crowds during riots, but are hardly ever used on the French mainland.
Some entered housing estates on the outskirts of major cities such as Paris during riots in 2005, when mainly suburban youths went on the rampage.
A total of 106 out of 109 squads of gendarmes will mobilise across France this weekend, along with other paramilitaries groups such as the Republican Security Companies (CRS).
Up until now, police chiefs have insisted that armoured vehicles were not necessary, but last Saturday the Arc de Triomphe itself was attacked, and there were more than 400 arrests.
Crisis-ridden Mr Macron has climbed down on imposing green surcharges in a bid to prevent more savage rioting, but his strategy is failing.
The Yellow Vests said their protests would continue indefinitely as they campaign for even more tax reductions.
There have been calls for a State of Emergency to be announced, and for the Army to take to the streets, as some 4,500 police in Paris at times lost all control of the streets last week.
The current spate of Paris violence is considered the worst since the Spring of 1968, when President Charles de Gaulle’s government feared a full-blown revolution.
The independent Mr Macron, leader of the Republic On The Move party, won the French presidential election in a landslide in 2017, but he is now dubbed the ‘President of the Rich’ with polls showing his popularity rating down to just 18 per cent. — DailyMail