MORE than 400 people have been injured during widespread fuel protests in France as violence spilled into a second day yesterday.
So-called ‘yellow vest’ motorists, named after the high-visibility jackets drivers have to keep in their cars, have blockaded major roads in demonstrations over the rising price of petrol and diesel.
Almost 300 arrests have been made as protesters tried to storm the Élysée Palace — the presidential home in Paris — and clashed with riot police on the Champs-Élysées.
Yellow vest protester Chantal Mazet, a 63-year-old mother, was knocked down and killed at a blockade in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, in eastern France, on Saturday.
The driver claimed she ‘panicked’ when protesters banged on her car roof as she tried to take her daughter to hospital. A 43-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.
Interior minister Christophe Castaner said there had been 282 arrests by yesterday morning, with 409 injured, 14 of them seriously.
‘Saturday night was hectic,’ he added. ‘There were assaults, fights, stabbings. There have been fights involving yellow vests, with a lot of alcohol in some places, and it has provoked idiotic behaviour that led to violence, and this is unacceptable.’
The protests are a huge challenge to president Emmanuel Macron, who came to power in May last year promising a greener France. He is determined to eventually outlaw all petrol and diesel engines, replacing them with electric ones.
Despite the 5,000 protests held in a ‘day of action’ across France on Saturday — some of which continued yesterday — there is widespread support for reducing carbon emissions.