PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 08: Protesters chant slogans as during the 'yellow vests' demonstration on the Champs-Elysées near the Arc de Triomphe on December 8, 2018 in Paris France. ''Yellow Vests' ('Gilet Jaunes' or 'Vestes Jaunes') is a protest movement without political affiliation which was inspired by opposition to a new fuel tax. After a month of protests, which have wrecked parts of Paris and other French cities, there are fears the movement has been infiltrated by 'ultra-violent' protesters. Today's protest has involved at least 5,000 demonstrators gathering in the Parisian city centre with police having made over 200 arrests so far.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Who are France's 'yellow vest' protesters?
02:33 - Source: AFP, M6, Reuters
CNN  — 

Police fired water cannon and tear gas at “gilets jaunes” or yellow vest protesters in central Paris, who have marched through the city for the ninth consecutive weekend.

A total of 59 people were questioned by authorities, on charges including unlawful weapons and participating in a group with the goal of committing violent crimes.

Violent clashes occurred on the Champs-Elysées, a epicenter of the protests which have brought repeated disruption to the city.

The total number of demonstrators has also risen from last weekend, the country’s Interior Ministry said.

More than 32,000 people were taking part across France at 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET) on Saturday, a rise of 6,000 compared to the same time seven days ago.

In Paris itself, 8,000 were marching, a fourfold increase on last weekend.

The protests began as a campaign against a gas tax hike, but have morphed into a broader rally against President Emmanuel Macron’s government.

They caused many tourist sites and landmarks to be closed in anticipation of violent scenes.

Gilets jaunes protesters march through Paris on Saturday.

Some of the demonstrations in the capital on Saturday took place near the Rue de Trevise in the city’s 9th arrondissement, where hours earlier an explosion at a bakery killed two firefighters and a Spanish citizen.

In his New Year’s address, Macron referred to the movement without naming it specifically.

He acknowledged anger against injustice but said hateful speech would not be tolerated, and called on people to respect each other.

Last month, he pledged to increase the minimum wage and scrap new pension taxes, in an effort to appease the protesters.

At least 10 deaths have been linked to the protests, with most taking place in traffic accidents related to blockades in November and December.

CNN’s Katie Polglase, Saskya Vandoorne and Arnaud Siad contributed to this report.