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France sees 6th yellow vest protester die in road accident

Photo: AP


A sixth “yellow vest” protester In France has been killed, this one hit by a truck at a protest roadblock, authorities said Thursday as the movement rocking the country showed no signs of abating.

Officials in the Vaucluse department said the driver was arrested and taken into custody after he tried to flee the scene near the southern city of Avignon. The Vaucluse prefect’s office said the injured protester received emergency treatment but died from his wounds overnight.

The prefect urged the protesters — who wear the fluorescent safety vests that France requires drivers to keep in their cars — to use “the utmost caution,” especially at night, to avoid more accidents.

On Wednesday night, French police were sent to reopen a major road in Burgundy where “people identifying themselves as yellow vests” blocked about 200 trucks for several hours, local authorities said. Eleven protesters were arrested and six of them were put into custody.

In an effort to defuse the tensions sweeping the country, French President Emmanuel Macron has acknowledged he’s partially responsible for the anger behind the anti-government protests. He has announced a series of measures aimed at improving French workers’ spending power.

But many protesters have expressed disappointment at the measures and are planning more protests across France on Saturday.

Despite the huge criticism over his handling of France’s social crisis, Macron’s centrist government easily won a no-confidence vote Thursday in the lower house of parliament. Only 70 out of 577 lawmakers voted in favor of the motion brought by far-left and Socialist lawmakers. Macron’s party and its allies have a strong majority at the National Assembly.

Fearing more violent protests this weekend, authorities have already postponed seven French league soccer matches, diverting police to deploy extra security around the country following the extremist attack Tuesday that left three people dead at a Christmas market in Strasbourg.

The French league says the reason for the cancellations is because police forces are being stretched.

France has raised its threat index to the highest level and deployed 1,800 additional soldiers to help patrol streets and secure crowded events in the wake of the Strasbourg attack. More than 700 officers are involved in the manhunt for the 29-year-old suspect, Cherif Chekatt, who had a long criminal record.