A female protester has died and several other people have been injured when drivers angry at rising fuel prices disrupted traffic across France in a new challenge to embattled President Emmanuel Macron.
The woman died after a driver panicked and drove towards protesters on Saturday at Pont-de-Beauvoisin in the southeastern region of Savoie, where demonstrators had gathered in a backlash against higher fuel tax.
Some 120,000 protesters who dubbed themselves the “yellow vests” have gathered in 2,000 locations across the country, causing logjams on highways and blocking roundabouts.
Police said of the 47 other protesters who had been injured, three were in critical condition.
A total of 24 people were arrested and most of the injuries were caused by infuriated drivers trying to force their way through the protesters, police said.
The demonstrators have vowed to disrupt traffic across the country and block access to city centers and airports. They accuse President Macron of abandoning “the little people.”
Macron admitted this week that he had not “really managed to reconcile the French people with their leaders.” However, he accused his political opponents of hijacking the movement in order to block his reform program.
Public anger over fuel costs has been simmering for months. Earlier this week, a poll found that nearly three-quarters of respondents backed the protest campaign and 70 percent wanted the government to reverse the fuel tax hike.
Over the past year, the cost of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in cars in France, has risen by 23 percent.