PARIS - French authorities have drafted thousands of additional police officers into Paris ahead of a third demonstration on Saturday by protesters angry at high fuel prices as security officials warned of renewed violence.
For more than two weeks, the "yellow vests" have blocked roads across France in a spontaneous, popular rebellion against diesel tax hikes and the high cost of living. It has grown into one of the largest and most stubborn challenges Emmanuel Macron has faced in his 18-month-old presidency.
A week ago thousands of protesters, who have no leader and have largely organised themselves online, converged on Paris for the first time, turning the Champs Elysees into a battlezone as they clashed with police firing tear gas and water canon.
"We're worried that small groups of rioters that aren't yellow vests will infiltrate (the demonstration) to fight security forces and challenge the authority of the state," said Denis Jacob, Secretary General of the Alternative Police union.
"Given the high level of security around the Champs the fear is thugs will go to other places," he said.
Officials said they expected some 5,000 police and gendarmes in Paris, up from about 3,000 last Saturday. Another 5,000 will be deployed across the country for other yellow vests protests.