Minister says 409 injured in gas tax protests around France

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The woman died after being hit by a vehicle in the eastern Savoie region, according to an official.

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 a year ago.

Police used tear gas to clear the entrance to a tunnel under the Mont-Blanc mountain in the Alps, and to push back demonstrators near the Elysee Palace in Paris and in the centre of Lyon.

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.

The "yellow-vest" movement called for people wearing high-visibility jackets to block motorway exits, fuel depots and roundabouts in hundreds of events planned across France.

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They are angry at higher fuel taxes introduced by President Emmanuel Macron.

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. At last count, at least 409 people had been injured - 14 seriously, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Sunday on RTL radio.

The rise in fuel taxes is part of Macron's strategy to wean France off fossil fuels.

But many say they simply increase the burden on France's poorer people.

Police questioned almost 300 protesters, and took about half of them into custody.

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At a blockade on a road in the south-eastern department of Savoie, a driver panicked when protesters surrounded her auto and she accelerated, hitting and killing a female demonstrator, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in televised comments. A police officer and a firefighter who intervened when protesters attacked a closed service station were among the eight. He said 157 people were detained for questioning - double the number reported Saturday night.

A woman has been killed in a "tragic accident" after a auto rammed into protesters in France. They called themselves "yellow jackets" because most were wearing the fluorescent yellow vests that must be kept in vehicles of all French drivers in case of auto troubles.

Many drivers see them as emblematic of a presidency seen as disconnected from day-to-day economic difficulties. However, protesters and their supporters have voiced anger about other issues, too, including diminishing buying power.

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".

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