Foreigners were put on alert for possible violence during Saturday’s French fuel protests, particularly in Paris, with some embassies warning their nationals to stay well away. The US embassy issued a detailed travel alert detailing where the protests were expected in Paris Saturday.
“Demonstrations may become violent, resulting in damage to property, including overturning vehicles and setting them on fire,” said the embassy statement. “Police responses may include water cannons and/or tear gas.”
The alert counselled Americans to keep a low profile, avoid crowds and to move vehicles away from places where demonstrations were expected. A statement from Britain’s Foreign Office also warned that Saturday’s demonstrations could turn violent.
The embassies of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also warned their nationals to be extra cautious and avoid protests.
“Motorists travelling through France may also experience delays or blockages caused by demonstrators at motorway toll booths,” it added. “In all cases, you should avoid any demonstrations if at all possible and follow the advice of the local authorities.” It gave similar advice for expected demonstrations in Brussels.
Belgium meanwhile advised its nationals to postpone any trips to Paris if at all possible. If they were in Paris, they should avoid tourist sites and leave any vehicles in underground parking. “Don’t get involved in any discussions or other polemics,” it said. “Do not resist the police.”
French officials have in any case already announced the closure of major tourist sites in Paris including museums and art galleries — and told shopkeepers on and around the Champs-Elysees to stay shut on Saturday.
Spain’s foreign ministry advised its nationals in Paris to keep an eye on news coverage and to flee any clashes. In the event they got caught up in any violence, they should get away from it as soon as possible without stopping to take photos or film footage.
The alert counselled Americans to keep a low profile, avoid crowds and to move vehicles away from places where demonstrations were expected.
Portugal advised its nationals in Paris not to go out if they could avoid it. The Dutch, German, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish and Turkish authorities all warned of possible violence, particularly in Paris, and advised their nationals to stay away from any demonstrations.
The embassies of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also warned their nationals to be extra cautious and avoid protests. Some embassies spelled out which parts of Paris to avoid. The Danish embassy advised its nationals to avoid the Champs-Elysees area — the scene of violent clashes last weekend — and other areas.
This weekend around 8,000 police officers will be on duty in Paris — 5,000 more than last weekend when rioters caused extensive damage at the Arc de Triomphe and around the Champs-Elysees. A dozen armoured vehicles will also be deployed in the capital for the first time.
© Agence France-Presse