Yellow vest demonstrator injured by grenade as protesters try to storm French National Assembly

Peter Stubley

A “yellow vest” demonstrator suffered serious hand injuries after trying to pick up a “sting-ball” grenade during the 13th weekend of protests in France.

The man lost four fingers when the device exploded in the street during clashes with police in the streets near the National Assembly in the centre of Paris.

Mobile phone footage shared on social media showed a protester crouched in pain as medics tended to his severely-damaged hand.

Police said the grenades, which scatter rubber pellets and emit tear gas, were used to disperse protesters after they tried to storm the parliament building.

At least 31 people were arrested, several cars, a scooter, several rubbish bins and a police van were set on fire and some shop windows were smashed.

Around 4,000 people attended the mostly-peaceful march in Paris, with a further 8,000 people taking part in protests across France, according to the Interior Ministry.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner reacted to the violence by posting on Twitter the words “Indignation and disgust” above a picture of a burning van belonging to the security forces.

“Every day the military ... protects our compatriots from the risk of terrorism. These attacks are intolerable,” Mr Castaner added.

The yellow vest, or gilets jaunes, demonstrations began in mid-November as a protest over fuel taxes but have since widened into a general revolt against Emmanuel Macron and politicians in general.

“We’re not children, we’re adults,” said Hugues Salone, a computer engineer from Paris who joined the protests. “We really want to assert our choices, and not the choices of the politicians who do not live up to them.”

The protests took place hours after an arson attack on home of Richard Ferrand, president of the National Assembly and a close ally of Mr Macron.

Mr Ferrand posted pictures of his burnt living room on Twitter and said police found a homemade torch at the scene. “Nothing justifies intimidation, nothing justifies violence and degradation,” he added in a statement.

The French president also condemned the “intimidations and violence towards an elected official of the Republic.”

Protests also took place in Latvia, where activists staged a demonstration in front of the French embassy in Riga.

The crowd waved Latvia’s red-and-white flag and shouted: “The French have woken up, while Latvians remain asleep.”

Additional reporting by Reuters and Associated Press