Published: Mon, November 19, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Woman killed, 47 injured during fuel tax protest, French officials say

Woman killed, 47 injured during fuel tax protest, French officials say

A woman has died and 47 people are injured as people block roads around France to protest against rising fuel taxes.

The French interior ministry said that almost 300 protesters were questioned, with 157 among them taken into custody.

French Interior Ministry officials estimated that about 244,000 protesters were involved in several thousand protests around the country, many of them spontaneous.

Demonstrators were seen burning tires and setting up barricades on the roads.

"This isn't just about fuel prices, this is about President Macron and his government and also this feeling of a division between what many describe as the urban elite, represented by President Macron, and ordinary working people".

Laurent Wauquiez, leader of conservative party The Republicans, took part in a protest in Puy-en-Velay, central France, calling Macron to ditch his tax hike plans.

The government has announced a number of measures to help poorer families pay their energy and transport bills. The protests have drawn support from the left and right of the political spectrum.

An Elabe poll last week found that 73 percent of respondents backed the movement.

What happened in the protests?

AFP journalists across France reported that the protests appeared to be less widespread than Saturday, when close to 300,000 people participated, but there were again clashes with police - and sometimes motorists.

Most protests passed peacefully but at some places tempers flared and drivers tried to force their way through the roadblocks. The driver of the vehicle had reportedly accelerated in panic after being caught up in a demonstration.

Another woman driving a vehicle panicked when she encountered a roadblock and ran over a protester, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Saturday on live television.

The situation throughout the night was "agitated", Castaner said, with "aggressions, fights, knife-slashing" taking place, including among the protesters.

With nearly 80 per cent of the public backing the "yellow vest" protests, the president held a crisis meeting to find ways of softening the impact on the poor and came up with a raft of sweeteners worth around €500 million. "There was a lot of alcohol at certain venues, which led to this idiotic behaviour".

He said more than 400 people were hurt, 14 seriously.

However, the government minister responsible for making France greener, François de Rugy, said nothing about reversing the changes, insisting there are problems that have to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Why are drivers on the warpath?

She said the price of diesel, for example, had risen 23% in the past 12 months.

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