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‘Yellow vest’ protests against Emmanuel Macron snarl traffic across France

A road blocked by protestors in Souffelweyersheim, eastern France. AFP

Thousands of drivers blocked roads across France on Saturday in a “yellow vest” movement against high fuel prices which has mushroomed into a widespread protest against stagnant spending power under President Emmanuel Macron.

Around 50,000 people were taking part in more than 1,000 protests at roundabouts and motorway exits, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

“It’s much bigger than we expected,” said Yves Garrec, a private taxi operator at a roundabout in Toulouse, describing a “good-natured” atmosphere among the demonstrators.

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.

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But one woman was killed when a mother trying to bring her daughter to the doctor panicked when protesters surrounded their car and began banging on the roof, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

The mother panicked and suddenly ploughed into the crowd in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, southeast France, hitting a woman in her 50s.

Castaner said a handful of other injuries had been reported in other areas, including a police officer in the southern city of Grasse outside Nice, by drivers trying to force a way through the blockades.

“We’re on maximum alert,” he said, reiterating that police would ensure that no roads were completely blocked in order to ensure people’s safety.

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In Paris, a group of some 50 protesters were yelling “Macron resign!” on the Champs Elysee, though police were stopping them from heading toward the nearby Elysee Palace, the president’s residence.

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