Fresh clashes in French 'yellow vest' fuel price protests

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.

People walk on the Champs Elysees in Paris to protest fuel taxes.

One protester was killed and 106 others have been injured at roadblocks set up around France on Saturday as citizens angry at rising fuel taxes rose up in a grassroots movement and posed a new challenge to President Emmanuel Macron.

She was hit in the eastern Savoie region by a driver who apparently accelerated in a panic while caught in the demonstration, according to a regional official.

At last count, at least 409 people had been injured - 14 seriously, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Sunday on RTL radio.

Although most of the blockades were being carried out without incidents, tempers flared at times as some drivers confronted the protesters or tried to force their way through.

The driver, who police said was in a state of shock, was taken in for questioning. She accidentally struck and killed a woman in her 60s, the interior ministry said.

"We're showing that the French do not support their government's policies", said Franck Deroo, a 47-year-old electrician at a blockade on a highway near the Belgian border in Neuville-en-Ferrain, northern France. "There were fights among "yellow vest" protesters".

The situation throughout the night was "agitated", Castaner said, with "aggressions, fights, knife-slashing" taking place, including among the protesters.

More than 1,000 protesters congregated at the Place de la Concorde at the bottom of the Champs-Elysees, shouting "Macron resign" as police looked on.

Most protests were relatively calm despite the anger expressed by many in interviews and on social media in recent days over the surge in fuel prices this year, in particular for diesel.

The "yellow-vest" movement called for people wearing high-visibility jackets to block motorway exits, fuel depots and roundabouts in hundreds of events planned across France.

"Macron is the president of the rich and not the poor".

The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by around 23% over the past 12 months to an average of €1.51 (£1.32; $1.71) per litre, its highest point since the early 2000s, AFP news agency reports. The government announced last week a series of measures to quell the anger, including energy subsidies and higher scrappage bonuses towards cleaner vehicles.

"We've had enough of it".

Macron wants to close the gap between the price of diesel fuel and gasoline as part of his strategy to wean France off fossil fuels.

  • Jon Douglas