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

Fired up ‘Yellow vest’ protesters use burning pallets to block a road in Caen western France

Demonstrators gather to protest fuel taxes in Paris, France, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2018. "We have no life, we're just surviving", she said.

On Saturday, groups blocked roundabouts, major highways and thoroughfares to express anger over tax rises on fuel, arguing it has shrunk personal spending power under President Emmanuel Macron.

The grassroots nature of the protests, which drew supporters angry over an array of issues, made it a political hot potato for Macron's government. According to various French media reports, the protesters reportedly knocked on her auto as she tried to take her daughter to a hospital.

Police used tear gas to disperse protesters on the Champs-Elysees, RT France said.

Overall 52 people had been detained across France and 106 people had been injured, five seriously, the interior ministry said.

Some protests ended up in scuffles with police. Blockades were counted at 150 scattered locations Sunday, Castaner told RTL radio.

The government sent in police to monitor tens of thousands of gathering points, some non-declared in advance and therefore illegal.

"This is what we were anxious about by having unorganised demonstrations by people who aren't necessarily used to such things", Castaner said earlier.

Blockade Demonstrators stand in the road to stop traffic
Blockade Demonstrators stand in the road to stop traffic

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.

Wearing the safety hazard jackets drivers are mandated by law to carry in their vehicle, "Yellow Vests" are protesting the 23 per cent rise in diesel to €1.51 (£1.32/$1.71) per litre - the increase coming in a span of just 12 months and at its highest point since the early 2000s. "It's very clear", the prime minister said Sunday. In many places, the roadblocks have led to severe traffic jams.

Protesters blame a 20 percent rise in diesel prices in the a year ago on the so-called green taxes under President Emmanuel Macron. A "carbon trajectory" calls for continued increases, particularly on diesel.

A poll published on Sunday in the Journal de Dimanche weekly said that 62 per cent of those questioned believed their purchasing power was more important than a fast transition towards renewable energy. He vowed that results would be in at the end of Macron's mandate in 2022 - and good for the French.

Tax hikes on fuel and tobacco as well as an increase to a social welfare levy before other tax cuts came into force have left some voters feeling squeezed.

Macron, whose popularity ratings are sliding regularly, has not commented.

"What's certain is that I won't vote for him again". The Troyes prefecture was invaded and damaged by protesters on Saturday.

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