More than 400 hurt in French fuel price protests: minister

More than 400 hurt in French fuel price protests: minister

More than 400 hurt in French fuel price protests: minister

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. Protests were reported Sunday several regions across France.

Photos and videos posted on social media show large crowds of people wearing yellow vests - the symbol of a popular movement and umbrella organization behind the protests - overrunning the roads and highways in various regions.

The diesel tax increases, created to encourage drivers to switch to more environmentally-friendly cars, were approved in late 2017 but began to bite when oil prices surged in October, angering some in the provinces who rely on their cars to get to work.

At least 227 people were injured across France, including six seriously, according to the interior ministry, which estimated that almost 283,000 demonstrators took part in Saturday's protests.

Thousands of people gathered on motorways in a backlash against higher fuel taxes.

In the eastern Savoie region, a woman trying to get her daughter to a doctor panicked after protesters surrounded their auto and banged on the roof, accelerating into the crowd and killing a 63-year-old woman.

"They have sent a message", Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

Castaner told RTL radio about 288,000 people had taken part in Saturday´s protests at 2,034 locations countrywide.

Almost 300,000 protesters paralyzed traffic at more than 2,000 strategic sites around France on Saturday in a bid to force the government to lower taxes on diesel fuel and gasoline.

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In televised comments, Castener said around 50,000 people were taking part in the backlash against President Emmanuel Macron's fuel tax hikes, adding that police would take action to ensure no roads were completely blocked.

People block the traffic of Paris' landmark Avenue des Champs Elysees and place Charles de Gaulle-Etoile on November 17, 2018 in Paris. According to various French media reports, protesters reportedly knocked on her vehicle as she tried to take her daughter to a hospital.

Prices have eased this month, although protestors on Saturday had other complaints too, as Macron's next test at the ballot box in European parliamentary elections in May 2019 looms. A "carbon trajectory" calls for continued increases, particularly on diesel.

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.

Many drivers see them as emblematic of a presidency seen as disconnected from day-to-day economic difficulties.

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.

"I don't think silence is the right answer", said Troyes Mayor Francois Baroin, a former mainstream right minister and senator before the prime minister spoke.

Robert Tichit, 67, a retiree, referred to the president as "King Macron". He also said more tax on fossil fuels was needed to fund renewable energy investments.

"We work like slaves and at some point enough is enough".

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