'Assaults, fights, stabbings': More than 400 injured in France's yellow vest protests

Aaron Brown
November 19, 2018

World oil prices did rise before falling back again but the Macron government raised its hydrocarbon tax this year by 7.6 cents per litre on diesel and 3.9 cents on petrol, as part of a campaign for cleaner cars and fuel.

One protester was killed and 227 other people were injured - eight seriously - at roadblocks set up around villages, towns and cities across France on Saturday as citizens angry with rising fuel taxes rose up in a grassroots movement, posing a new challenge to beleaguered President Emmanuel Macron.

The protests, largely orchestrated on social media and which aimed to prevent road access to some fuel depots and airports, have also drawn broader support from some voters dissatisfied with Mr Macron's economic reforms and his governing style.

In the eastern Savoie region, a 63-year-old woman was killed when a mother trying to take her daughter to see a doctor panicked after protesters surrounded their auto, and suddenly accelerated into the crowd.

Eight of the 227 people injured were in serious condition, ministry officials said at an evening briefing, without providing details.

According to various French media reports, others reportedly knocked on her auto as she tried to take her daughter to a hospital. "He needs to think about the poor as well", said Andre, a 38-year-old with no driver's license who nonetheless joined a blockade in Dole, eastern France.

"There were assaults, fights, stabbings", he said.

The yellow vests enjoy much broader support than other protests since Macron swept to power a year ago, with 73% of respondents backing the protests in an Elabe poll this week.

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In Paris, protesters holding "Macron resign!" signs and singing the national anthem partially blocked the Champs Elysees in the heart of the French capital.

Protesters pledge to target tollbooths, roundabouts and the bypass that rings Paris on Saturday.

It is believed the woman was killed by an accelerating vehicle, which was being blocked by drivers in the Savoie region, in demonstrations being seen as a new challenge to embattled President Emmanuel Macron.

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

"Macron is the president of the rich and not the poor". And in a TV interview this week Macron admitted that he had "not succeeded in reconciling the French with their leaders" and "we have probably not given them enough consideration".

Anger over the high fuel prices has resulted in Macron's popularity taking a hit over the recent months - from 39 percent in July to 21 percent in October.

The tax increases are part of an effort to move away from a reliance on fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

"We want to work, but not for nothing", said Joffrey Gouillet, 27, a protester in Pont-de-Beauvoisin.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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