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Dublin: 20 °C Monday 1 June, 2020

Driver killed after car crashes at 'yellow vest' roadblock in southern France

There have now been ten deaths related to the protests since they began.

A highway blocked near the French border with Spain as part of a 'yellow vest' protest today
A highway blocked near the French border with Spain as part of a 'yellow vest' protest today
Image: PA Images

A MOTORIST IN France has been killed after the car they were driving crashed at a roadblock set up by ‘yellow vest’ protesters in southern France.

The incident happened overnight in the city of Perpignan, when the driver’s vehicle collided with a truck stopped at the entrance to an autoroute, prosecutor Jean-Jacques Fagni told AFP.

There have now been ten deaths related to the protests since they began on 17 November.

Around 50 ‘yellow vest’ protestors briefly blocked trucks near the border between France and Spain before gendarmes stepped in.

Blockades were also reported in northern France near the border with Belgium.

In Paris, the scene of violent clashes in previous demonstrations, traffic was normal this morning and most shops, except for some luxury boutiques, were open for business in the busy weekend before Christmas. 

Some 200 people gathered for a demonstration in Paris’ tourist area of Monmartre and the Sacre Coeur basilica.

In all, around 800 “yellow vests” showed up for small demonstrations around the French capital, police said at midday.

Falling numbers

Authorities were also stationed at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris, which has been closed to visitors over fears of unrest.

A Facebook event organised by ‘yellow vest’ leader Eric Drouet listed 1,400 people as planned “participants” in the Versailles demonstration with a further 8,000 people saying they were “interested”.

Further demonstrations were planned for Saturday in Lyon, Toulouse, Orleans and Brittany. 

The number of protesters has however fallen significantly since last week, when President Emmanuel Macron, a pro-business centrist, gave in to some of their demands.

Since the peak on 17 November saw 282,000 demonstrators take to the streets, the turnout fell to around 166,000 on 24 November, 136,000 on the first and eighth of December, and 66,000 on 15 December.

The interior ministry estimated the numbers taking part in various protests on Thursday at under 4,000, the lowest since demonstrations began.

The movement, characterised by the high-visibility yellow vests worn by the protesters, originally started as a protest about planned fuel tax hikes, but has morphed into a mass demonstration against Macron’s policies and top-down style of governing.

© – AFP 2019

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