Woman killed by 'panicked driver' as protesters block roads across France

Emmanuel Macron said protesters have a

Emmanuel Macron said protesters have a"fundamental right to express their anger

At a blockade on a road in the southeastern department of Savoie, a driver panicked when protesters surrounded her auto and she accelerated, hitting and killing a woman demonstrator, the French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in televised comments.

Police used tear gas to disperse protesters on the Champs-Elysees, RT France said.

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.

Almost 283,000 people were estimated to have taken part in more than 2,000 protests at roundabouts and on major highways and thoroughfares across the country, with 227 people injured - seven seriously - and 52 detained, the Interior Ministry said. According to various French media reports, protesters reportedly knocked on her auto as she tried to take her daughter to a hospital.

The situation on the Champs-Elysees, for instance, was confusing, with the protest producing a party atmosphere at some points and angry confrontations at others.

Officials say 24 people have been arrested and 17 held for questioning.

Police fired tear gas when a group moved into a street near the presidential palace. The fluorescent yellow vests donned by the protesters must be kept in the vehicles of all French drivers in case of auto troubles. Hundreds of protesters took over the Place de la Concorde at the bottom of the avenue, shouting "Macron resign" as police looked on.

"The protesters were united in two things: the first was the symbol of their protest, the yellow vest they were wearing; and the second was that they were angry and frustrated at the president in the hike of petrol and diesel", Barker said.

Over 280,000 people took to streets across France on Saturday in over 2,000 separate demonstrations across the country over government plans to introduce a new gas tax.

The taxes are part of Macron's strategy to reduce France's reliance on fossil fuels.

Many drivers see them as emblematic of a presidency disconnected from day-to-day economic difficulties.

- "President of the rich" - The movement enjoys much broader support than other protests since Macron swept to power previous year, with 73 percent of respondents backing the protests in an Elabe poll this week.

"Macron is the president of the rich and not the poor".

Macron's popularity has plunged, hovering around 30 per cent.

Protesters gathered at sensitive flashpoints, including the entry to a tunnel under the Mont-Blanc mountain in the Alps, and traffic was backed up on several highways.

"We've had enough of it. There are too many taxes in this country", he told The Associated Press.

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