One dead, dozens injured in fuel tax protests around France

The demonstrations, coordinated on social media, were born out of a backlash against higher fuel prices, and echo complaints about a perceived squeeze in spending power and mounting dissatisfaction with Macron, who some view as out of touch with ordinary people.

French interior ministry officials say that one protester has been killed and 47 injured as demonstrators block roads around France to protest gas price increases.

In the south-eastern department of Savoie, a driver panicked when she saw protesters barring the way and accelerated, hitting and killing a female demonstrator, the interior minister, Christophe Castaner, and a local official said.

At least 47 others have been injured in protests, three in a serious condition, with French police adding that 24 arrests have been made.

Tempers flared at times as some drivers confronted the protesters or tried to force their way through the barricades.

Police questioned 282 protesters in total, 73 during the night, of which 157 were taken into custody.

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. "There were fights among ´yellow vest´ protesters".

Castaner said a handful of other injuries had been reported in other areas, including a police officer in the southern city of Grasse outside Nice, by drivers trying to force a way through the blockades.

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Separately, ambulances briefly blocked Paris's Champs-Elysees on Friday to protest against new rules on ambulance financing and put pressure on Mr Macron's government.

While it was unclear if the weekend's momentum would continue, the movement is posing a challenge to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Many turned their anger on President Emmanuel Macron, who they accuse of being out-of-touch.

Protesters say he is neglecting the lower and middle classes, pointing to tax cuts he has pushed through for high earners and companies. "He needs to think about the poor as well", said Andre, a 38-year-old who joined a blockade in Dole, eastern France.

Taxes on diesel fuel have gone up 7 euro cents (nearly 8 USA cents) and are to keep climbing in the coming years, Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne has said.

The government last week announced a series of measures to try and quell the anger over fuel prices, including energy subsidies and higher bonuses towards cleaner vehicles.

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. "You can't make it to the end of the month even with two salaries".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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