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Monday 17 December 2018

One killed and dozens injured in French fuel tax protests

A protester was killed when a driver caught in traffic accelerated in a panic at Pont-de-Beauvoisin, near Chambery.

Protests in Lyon (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
Protests in Lyon (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

By Associated Press Reporters

A protester has been killed and 47 others injured during roadblocks set up around France to demonstrate against rising fuel taxes, in a new challenge to embattled President Emmanuel Macron.

The protester was killed when a driver caught in traffic accelerated in a panic at Pont-de-Beauvoisin, near Chambery, said Louis Laugier, the top state official in the eastern Savoie region.

According to French media reports, the protesters reportedly knocked on her car as she tried to take her daughter to hospital. An investigation has been launched.

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Demonstrators block the entrance to the motorway in Bayonne (Bob Edme/AP)

Police said three of the 47 injured in separate incidents are in serious condition. Officials said 24 people have been detained and 17 held for questioning.

The Interior Ministry said about 125,000 protesters were involved in 2,000 demonstrations around France.

The ministry said security forces used tear gas in several places to unblock major routes, notably at the access road to the Mont Blanc tunnel where about 30 canisters were fired.

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Demonstrators block a motorway exit in Marseille (Claude Paris/AP)

Police at first held back protesters from advancing on Paris’s Champs-Elysees, with police vans blocking them from moving down the famed avenue, but up to 200 people were later seen walking down the street, apparently heading towards the Elysee presidential palace.

Protesters, wearing high-visibility vests and dubbing themselves the “yellow jackets”, had pledged to target tollbooths, roundabouts and the bypass that rings Paris.

The fluorescent vests must be kept in the vehicles of all French drivers in case of car trouble.

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

The taxes are part of Mr Macron’s strategy of weaning France off fossil fuels. Many drivers see them as emblematic of a presidency disconnected from day-to-day economic difficulties and serving the rich.

Press Association

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