1 dead, dozens injured in French fuel taxes protests

Petrol station

Taxes Fuel Protests in France Drivers to Block Roads AFP 2018 JEFF PACHOUD

A woman has been killed in a "tragic accident" after a vehicle rammed into protesters in France.

Protesters are demonstrating against petrol price hikes throughout France.

The protester was killed when a driver caught in traffic accelerated in a panic at Pont-de-Beauvoisin, near Chambery, said Louis Laugier, the prefect, or top state official, in the eastern Savoie region. Officers have so far arrested 24 people, and 17 of them were taken into custody, according to the Interior Ministry, cited by BFM TV.

Protesters, wearing yellow safety vests and dubbing themselves the "yellow jackets", had pledged to target tollbooths, roundabouts and the bypass that rings Paris.

At least 47 people were injured during the clashes, three of them seriously, police said.

The ministry said security forces used tear gas in several places besides the Champs-Elysees to unblock major routes, including firing about 30 canisters at the entrance to the Mont Blanc tunnel.

The protesters have dubbed themselves the "yellow jackets" because they wear fluorescent vests that all French drivers must keep in their vehicles in case of auto troubles.

The nationwide protest was unusual due to its grassroots origins.

But up to 200 people were later seen walking down the street, apparently heading towards the Elysee presidential palace.

Derided by political opponents as "the president of the rich" for measures such as the end of a wealth tax, Macron's popularity has dwindled to new lows of 21 percent.

The protesters have dubbed themselves the "yellow jackets" because they wear fluorescent vests that all French drivers must keep in their vehicles in case of auto troubles.

- "President of the rich" - The movement enjoys much broader support than other protests since Macron swept to power a year ago, with 73 percent of respondents backing the protests in an Elabe poll this week.

Robert Tichit, 67, a retiree, referred to the president as "King Macron". "There are too many taxes in this country", he told The Associated Press. French Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said the tax on diesel will increase by 6.5 cents per liter in January 2019, while the tax on gasoline is set to increase by 2.9 cents.

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