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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

'Yellow vest protester' wearing explosives surrenders in France

Police fire tear gas in clashes with anti-government protesters on the Champs-Elysee

A man throws a cycle onto a burning truck during a protest of yellow vests on the Champs Elysees in Paris on November 24, 2018. AFP
A man throws a cycle onto a burning truck during a protest of yellow vests on the Champs Elysees in Paris on November 24, 2018. AFP

A man wearing an explosive device and demanding "yellow vest" protesters be given an audience by the French president turned himself into police in western France on Friday, local officials said.

The 45-year-old man, who was himself wearing a yellow vest, revealed the device at a car wash in the shopping centre of the town of Angers.

He surrendered at 10.40pm in the shopping centre's parking lot after several hours of negotiations with police, the Maine-et-Loire department said.

"He demanded that the yellow vests be received at the Elysee" presidential palace, local prosecutor Yves Gambert said.

Local official Bernard Gonzalez said: "There was a real risk, real danger, he had an explosive charge around his neck ... This was not fake."

"It could have been dangerous for all the 'yellow vests' who spent the afternoon with him," he said, adding that the man clearly had experience with explosives.

The "yellow vest" protest movement began a week ago when hundreds of thousands of people wearing high-visibility vests blockaded roads in a largely spontaneous outpouring of anger about higher diesel taxes and the policies of unpopular President Emmanuel Macron.

On Saturday, anti-government protesters clashed with French police on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, leaving the famed avenue cloaked in tear gas.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner blamed the unrest on far-right agitators who ignored a ban on demonstrations in the area and who threw projectiles at security forces.

Mr Castaner earlier tweeted that the man who surrendered himself in Angers had threatened to use "unidentified explosive elements and tampered grenades".

The incident took place at the Espace Anjou shopping centre, near where "yellow vests" protesters in Angers have gathered for the last week.

The protest movement quickly disavowed the man.