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ONE protester was killed and hundreds injured during a demonstration over rising fuel costs in France yesterday as quarter of a million took to the streets.
A woman died after being struck by a vehicle that accelerated in panic after it was surrounded by demonstrators who blocked roads across the capital in protest against government plans to introduce an environmental tax on greenhouse gas emissions.
They have branded the move an attack on the country’s working class with the cost of petrol set to increase by another 3 euro cents per litre (about 2.6p per gallon) and diesel prices by 6.5 euro cents (5.7p) by January 2019.
Almost 200 people were injured in the demonstration and authorities said 52 arrests were made as the so-called “yellow vests” — named after the hi-vis jackets they are required to keep in their cars — blockaded motorways and roundabouts.
Most of the injuries occurred after cars ploughed into demonstrators according to French broadcaster BFMTV.
Police used tear gas as protesters slowed traffic trying to enter the Mont Blanc tunnel leading to Italy while reinforcements were deployed to stop angry demonstrators reaching the Elysee Palace.
President Emanuel Macron has faced calls to resign over the fuel price rises, with anger growing during his 18-month leadership which has been marked by strikes and demonstrations over labour reforms.
Around 2,000 demonstrations are believed to have taken place across France and its overseas territories, including Corsica, as pressure mounts on Mr Macron, who remains defiant over the implementation of the taxes.
He has accused the protests of being hijacked by political groups seeking to gain from the rising popular anger.
The CGT union said it was distancing itself from the protests due to the support from Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National party.
And Generation Ecologie leader Delphine Batho accused the demonstration of supporting big business, insisting the movement should instead focus on demanding cheaper and cleaner cars.
“I won’t demonstrate tomorrow, because I don’t take part in any demonstration that stands for the oil lobby,” she said
An online petition started by business manager Priscilla Ludosky has gathered around 879,000 signatures.
The latest protests have broad support among the French public, with nearly three-quarters who responded to an Elabe institute poll backing the Yellow Vests and wanting the government to stop the fuel tax rises.
More worryingly for the French president, more than half of those who voted for him support Saturday’s protests.
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