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France to deploy military troops to preserve calm in Yellow Vest protests

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Staff Writer | March 21, 2019
Military forces would be poured across French cities to help maintain public order during "Yellow Vest" protests planned this weekend, Benjamin Griveaux, the government's spokesman said on Wednesday.
Yellow Vest
Europe   The aim is to allow police to focus on the movement
The spokesperson told reporters that President Emmanuel Macron announced this morning a reinforced mobilization of the "sentinel operation" to secure fixed points, such as government buildings.

"The aim is to allow police to focus on the movement, maintaining and restoring (public) order," he added.

Sentinel forces have been deployed across the country since 2015.

They were created as part of a state of emergency declared after Islamist attacks two years ago.

Their mission consists in protecting sensitive places, including airports, train stations and religious sites.

"We can not let a tiny minority violently damage our country and damage the image of France abroad," he said after a weekly cabinet meeting.

In the latest demonstration in a series of weekly protests that began in November 2018 against dwindling purchasing power, a group of hard-left anti-capitalism militants, known as Black Blocs, ran amok across Paris last Saturday, torching cars and buildings, looting shops and smashing windows of boutiques in the fanciest shopping districts in Paris.

Police said over 200 individuals were arrested and 60 individuals, including 17 police officers were wounded following the flare-up of violence on March 17.

As part of the government's initiative to improve its security tactics and to silent critics, French government announced on Monday new security measures, offering more decision-making autonomy to security officers on the ground and to provide them with extra equipment including drones.

The government also planned a ban on "Yellow Vest" demonstrations "in neighborhoods that have been worst hit" as soon as signs of the presence of radical groups and their intent to cause damage are detected, said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.