Woman killed by 'panicked driver' as protesters block roads across France

Kenny Grant
November 17, 2018

According to various French media reports, protesters reportedly knocked on her vehicle as she tried to take her daughter to a hospital.

Protesters are demonstrating against petrol price hikes throughout France.

Police officers lobbed tear gas canisters at demonstrators on the famed Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris as groups tried to make their way to the presidential Elysee Palace.

In the southeastern town of Pont-de-Beauvoisin, a female driver panicked when she saw protesters barring the road and accelerated, hitting and killing a woman in her 50s, Interior Minister Christophe Castener said.

Al Jazeera's Neave Barker, reporting from Paris, said violent clashes broke out between the police and protest, during which the security forces used tear gas and arrested at least 24 people.

Police say that three of the injured are in serious condition, according to the ministry.

Protesters, wearing yellow safety vests and dubbing themselves the "yellow jackets", pledged to target tollbooths, roundabouts and the bypass that ring Paris.

The fluorescent vests must be kept in the vehicles of all French drivers in case of auto trouble.

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The nationwide protest was unusual due to its grassroots origins.

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

Many drivers see them as emblematic of a presidency disconnected from day-to-day economic difficulties and serving the rich.

Named for the high-visibility jackets worn by the protesters, the "yellow vests" say they are being squeezed by years of fuel tax increases that have driven prices to levels not seen since the early 2000s. "There are too many taxes in this country", he told The Associated Press.

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.

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".

The diesel tax increases are created to encourage drivers to switch to more environmentally friendly cars.

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