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Over 1700 arrested in ‘yellow vest’ protests

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Paris: French authorities made 1,723 arrests over the weekend, and took 1,220 into custody, as some 125,000 people joined a new wave of Yellow Jackets protests in towns and cities across France, the interior ministry said Sunday.

Some 10,000 protesters rallied in Paris, including in eastern and southern parts of the city. More than 260 people were injured in the protests, including 39 police and gendarmes, according to the interior ministry.

The government mobilized nearly 120,000 police and gendarmes across the country, and stationed heavy armored vehicles near major monuments in the capital in anticipation of a fourth weekend of Yellow Jackets violence.

 

Police also used tear gas on a group of protesters near the Champs-Elysées, where some protesters threw makeshift hand grenades at gendarmes and tore down barricades set up to protect shops in the area. One group attempted to attack at a phone store before police intervened.

The number of arrests made in Paris — 1,082 people were stopped, AFP reported — suggests authorities took a tougher approach to the protests in the capital. By comparison, Paris police made 412 arrests and placed 378 in custody last week, when protesters ransacked shops and defaced monuments around the Champs-Elysées. Only 103 people were stopped by police during protests in late November.

The Yellow Jackets protests grew out of discontent expressed on social media over a planned fuel-tax hike, which the French government has since abandoned. But the group has morphed into a broader movement protesting against President Emmanuel Macron, whom it accuses of ignoring the struggles of rural workers and others on low incomes. According to polls, a majority of French people support the movement.

Paris was largely in lock-down, with streets around the Champs-Elysées closed off to traffic and shops boarded up or closed to avoid damage. Some 10 museums — including the Louvre — plus the Eiffel Tower and big department stores also said they would be closed.

Similar demonstrations took place in cities and towns across the country, including in Marseille and Lyon, and in the suburbs of Paris. France’s national police force tweeted Saturday that a majority of protesters were “peaceful.”

In a show of solidarity with 153 students who were made to kneel in front of armed police on the outskirts of Paris earlier this week, some Yellow Jackets in Marseille protested by assuming the same position.

The protest movement also spilled across the border into Belgium, where 1,000 police officers were mobilized to deal with a rally that drew an estimated 1,000 Yellow Jacket supporters on Saturday. About 400 people were stopped by police in Brussels in “preventative” checks ahead of the protests, according to Ilse Van De Keere, the spokesperson for Central Brussels and Ixelles.

Some Yellow Jacket protesters also blocked off several big routes in Flanders, near the French border.


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Upcoming snow spell: Avalanche warning issued for Kashmir, Ladakh districts

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Srinagar, Jan 19: Kashmir areas experienced fresh snowfall on Saturday, with the weather office forecasting more in store for the next three days.
“A western disturbance (WD) is presently active over the state under whose influence moderate to heavy snowfall is likely to occur in the valley till January 23 after which the intensity of the WD will start decreasing,” a Met Department official said here.
District administrations have set up helplines to help prevent any untoward incident due to the heavy snowfall.
Meanwhile Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan Saturday issued fresh avalanche warning for nine avalanche prone districts of Kashmir division.
The warning has been issued for the avalanche-prone areas of district Anantnag, Kulgam, Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Kargil and Leh.
As per the hand out, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir has directed the Deputy Commissioners of all these districts to advise the people living in avalanche prone areas not to venture out to avoid the loss of lives.
The Div Com also directed the concerned DC’s to take all the precautionary measures and to keep the SDRF, Police and Para-medical staff with ambulances in readiness to avert any untoward incident.
While the nightlong cloud cover increased minimum temperatures throughout the valley on Saturday, the maximum temperatures are expected to drop further, the weather official said.
Srinagar recorded minus 2.0 degrees Celsius, Pahalgam minus 4.4 and Gulmarg minus 7.0 as the minimum temperatures.
Leh town had minus 9.2 degrees Celsius and Kargil minus 18.9 as the night’s lowest temperature.
Jammu city recorded 8.3 degrees Celsius, Katra 9.1, Batote 3.9, Bannihal 2.3 and Bhaderwah 1.3 as the minimum temperatures.

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UN clearly did its job: Guterres on Kashmir human rights report

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United Nations: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday hoped that India and Pakistan will engage in a “meaningful dialogue” to resolve their issues.
The UN chief also said he has been offering his “good offices in relation to the dialogue between the two countries that, until now, had no conditions of success.”
Guterres was speaking to reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.
“I hope that the importance of both India and Pakistan is such in international affairs, I hope that the two countries will be able to engage in a meaningful dialogue,” he said.
The UN chief was responding to a question on his repeated urging of dialogue between the two South Asian neighbours.
In relation to the human rights situation, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has produced recently a very detailed report. So, the UN has clearly done its job in that regard, Guterres said to a question by a Pakistan journalist on the situation in Kashmir.

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Day after grenade attack, forces conduct search op in Lal Chowk

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Srinagar: A joint search operation was launched by the forces and police in the commercial Hub Lal Chowk area of Srinagar on Saturday.
The search came a day after the grenade attack took place in the locality, which left a vehicle and windowpanes of some shops damaged.
Witnesses said that a large contingent of police and paramilitary troopers were deployed near the Clock Tower here while the frisking was also intensified.
They said that drones too were used during the operation.
However, a top police official said that it was a routine exercise ahead of upcoming Republic Day.

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