Killed, 47 Injured in France Gas Protests

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"This is what we were anxious about. unorganised demonstrations by people who aren't necessarily used to such things", Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in a statement.

In what is possibly the largest coordinated protest against President Emmanuel Macron's reforms since he took office 18 months ago, media reports that between 1,000 and 2,000 rallies have been organised across the country on Saturday with between 50,000 to 120,000 people in attendance.

The injured, 409 in total, included 28 police, paramilitary police or firefighters.

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

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

According to an opinion poll last week, 73 percent of respondents backed the "yellow vests" movement, a much higher figure than in other protests since Macron was elected on a reformist platform previous year.

More than 120,000 people gathered on Saturday at 2,000 locations, blocking roundabouts and motorway exits as part of what has been dubbed the "yellow vests" protest. "There was a lot of alcohol at certain venues, which led to this idiotic behaviour".

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, standing firm against a wave of grassroots protests, said Sunday that fuel tax hikes would remain in place despite nationwide agitation.

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


A poll published on Sunday in the Journal de Dimanche weekly said that 62 per cent of those questioned believed their purchasing power was more important than a fast transition towards renewable energy.

The daughter of the woman killed called for calm as she protested in Cavaillon, in southern France.

An investigation was underway in the death of a protester in the eastern Savoie region, hit by a driver who apparently accelerated in a panic while caught in the demonstration, according to a regional official.

The driver was on Sunday charged with manslaughter before being released on conditional bail, prosecutors said.

The ministry said security forces used tear gas in several places besides the Champs-Elysees to unblock major routes, including firing about 30 canisters at the entrance to the Mont Blanc tunnel.

"We've had enough of it. We have no life, we're just surviving", she said. "There are too many taxes in this country", he told The Associated Press.

Analysts say the movement now represents more widespread frustration over stagnant spending power under Macron, a former investment banker who promised economic revival and to restore people's trust in government.

The survey was conducted on Nov 9-17 with 1,957 respondents.

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