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1 dead, dozens injured in French fuel taxes protests

1 dead, dozens injured in French fuel taxes protests

The "yellow-vest" protests against petrol and diesel tax increases have also attracted voters who are dissatisfied more generally with Macron's economic reforms.

Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Sunday the government was aware of unhappiness over high fuel taxes, but said it had "a duty" to transform the French economy with the aim of making it less oil-dependent.

At a blockade in the southeastern department of Savoie, a driver panicked when protesters surrounded her vehicle and she accelerated, hitting and killing a female demonstrator, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

Of the 409 injured, 28 are members of the police and fire brigade, said Christophe Castaner, the interior minister.

Some incidents occurred as drivers not taking part tried to get around the blockades, police sources said.

By early evening, 73 people had been taken into custody, and some demonstrators were still in place at nightfall. French press reports Sunday said the driver was charged with manslaughter and released. "There were assaults, fights, stabbings", Castaner said.

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.

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With nearly 80 per cent of the public backing the "yellow vest" protests, the president held a crisis meeting to find ways of softening the impact on the poor and came up with a raft of sweeteners worth around €500 million.

Fourteen of the injured were in a serious condition as the demonstrations against Emmanuel Macron, the French president, went into their second day.

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.

Protesters say he is neglecting the lower and middle classes, pointing to tax cuts for high earners and companies. "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. Taxes on diesel fuel have risen 7 euro cents (nearly 8 US cents) and are to keep climbing in the coming years, Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne has said.

In a TV interview this week, Macron admitted he had "not succeeded in reconciling the French with their leaders" and that "we have probably not given them enough consideration".

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

The tax increases are part of an effort to move away from a reliance on fossil fuel-powered vehicles. "You can't make it to the end of the month even with two salaries".

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