146 arrested outside French school as students join protests

PARIS: Some 146 people, apparently secondary school students, were arrested near a school in a town outside Paris on Thursday, a police source said. The arrests were made after acts of vandalism in the town of Mantes-la-Jolie, the source said. Other secondary schools in the Paris region and elsewhere around France also saw gatherings of students and blockades, local media reported.
The students’ grievances include education reforms and a new online platform for allocating university places that has come under criticism, newspaper Le Parisien reported.
Some also wished to show support for the Yellow Vests movement against fuel tax rises, the newspaper said.
Almost 100 schools in Paris and the surrounding region were affected by the protests, broadcaster BFMTV reported.
President Emmanuel Macron late on Wednesday called off the petrol and diesel tax rises that sparked the Yellow Vests protests, which have seen blockades and protests around France since mid-November.
But prominent protesters say they still intend to take to the streets of Paris on Saturday, even though protests in the capital degenerated into rioting for the last two weekends. The government scrapped all planned fuel tax hikes for 2019 and appealed for calm.
An increase scheduled for January 1, was “scrapped for the year 2019” in its entirety, Environment Minister Francois de Rugy announced on BFM TV, in an about-turn for the government.
The presidency, meanwhile, warned of possible violence during a new round of protests planned for Saturday in Paris and elsewhere in the country.
“We have reasons to fear major violence,” a source in the Elysee Palace said amid calls for fresh mobilisation of the “yellow vests” movement already linked to four deaths and hundreds of injuries in often violent demonstrations. — dpa/AFP