France fuel protest: One dead in ‘yellow vest’ blockades

A protester has died in an accident and dozens have been injured as demonstrators angry at rising fuel prices disrupt traffic across France.

The female protester was struck after a driver surrounded by demonstrators panicked and accelerated.

Some 120,000 “yellow vests”, so-called after the high-visibility jackets they are required to carry in their cars, have gathered in 2,000 locations.

They accuse President Emmanuel Macron of abandoning “the little people”.

Mr Macron has not so far commented on the protests, some of which have seen demonstrators call for him to resign.

But he admitted earlier in the week that he had not “really managed to reconcile the French people with their leaders”.

Two more people were hurt when a blocked driver turned round and collided with two oncoming vehicles near the eastern city of Besançon, L’Est Républicain reported.

In Sélestat near Strasbourg a driver ran over a protester’s foot, the DNA regional news website said.

In the southern town of Grasse, a police officer was struck by a driver attempting to force his vehicle through a protest. The driver was arrested, Nice-Matin reported.

Nonetheless, he accused his political opponents of hijacking the movement in order to block his reform programme.

What has happened so far?

Chantal Mazet, 63, was killed in the south-eastern Savoy region when a driver who was taking her daughter to hospital panicked at being blocked by about 50 demonstrators, who were striking the roof of her vehicle, and drove into them.

The driver has been taken into police custody in a state of shock.

The protest “would be a failure” if it cost lives, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner was quoted by Le Parisien as saying.

“We are very worried. It is important to avoid risks,” he said.

Elsewhere in France there were reports of dozens of injuries, most taking place as infuriated drivers attempted to force their vehicles through crowds of protesters.

In Arras in northern France a 71-year-old demonstrator suffered serious injuries after being struck by a car which then scattered more demonstrators as the driver sped off, la Voix du Nord newspaper reported. The driver was later arrested.

In the northern town of Hazebrouck, two people were hurt when a truck driver mounted a pavement and forced the vehicle through protesters, la Voix du Nord said.


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