France braces for more violence over high living costs

More than 89,000 security personnel to be deployed nationwide ahead of protests Saturday

France braces for more violence over high living costs

At least 89,000 police officers will be deployed across France amid fears of violence during anti-government protests this weekend. 

Some 8,000 police officers will be on duty in Paris and armored vehicles will also be deployed, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told French television station TF1 Thursday.

"We face people who do not come to protest but to destroy," he said.

Shops and restaurants on Paris's Champs-Elysees and some museums will also be closed. 

The Eiffel Tower’s management announced on its Twitter account that it will remain closed to the public Saturday due to demonstrations and visitors will be automatically refunded.

Thousands of "yellow vest" protesters have been gathering in major French cities including Paris since Nov. 17 to protest President Emmanuel Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation in France.

The demonstrators, who generally live in rural areas due to high rents in the cities, called on Macron to cut fuel taxes and make economic arrangements to ease their lives.

Philippe announced Tuesday that France would delay fuel tax increases for six months and the suspension would also apply to increases in gas and electricity prices.

 The government abandoned the fuel tax hikes the following day.

“The government is ready for dialogue and is showing it because this tax increase has been dropped from the 2019 budget bill,” Philippe said in a speech at the National Assembly,  or lower house of parliament.

At least three people have died during the riots while 1,043 others have been injured, including 222 members of the security forces. As many as 1,424 people have been arrested.

According to a recent survey, 84 percent of the French people -- mostly from the middle-income group -- support the protests.

Fuel prices in France have risen more than 20 percent this year.