Violence broke out in Paris during a fourth consecutive weekend of Yellow Vest protests on December 8.
French riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets. Nearly 90,000 officers had been deployed,including 8,000 in Paris where 12 armored vehicles were also used.
More than 1,700 people were arrested, but the violence was not on the same level as a week earlier.
According to the interior ministry, an estimated 125,000 people took part in marches across the country protesting against fuel tax rises and high living costs. Around 10,000 people demonstrated inParis, where the scenes were the most destructive. Windows were smashed, carswere burned and stores were looted.
Video footage showed protesters hitby rubber bullets – including in the face. At least three members of the press were among those hit.
President Emmanuel Macron says his fuel policies are needed to combat global warming.
One person was in a critical condition after protesters pulled down an iron gate at the Tuileries Garden near the Louvre museum, which fell on several people.
An assault rifle was also stolen from a police vehicle although it was unclear if it was loaded, AFP quotes a police source as saying.
According to the French interior ministry, at least 75,000 people had turned out across France for the latest “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) rallies – so called because the protesters donned the high-visible vest required to be carried in every vehicle by law.
Nearly 190 fires were put out and six buildings were set ablaze, the interior ministry said.
Responding to the day’s events from the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, President Macron said the protests “had absolutely nothing to do with a peaceful demonstration of a legitimate unhappiness or discontent.”
President Macron said those responsible did not want change, but instead intended to “wreak chaos”.
Earlier this week, he tried to strike a conciliatory tone, saying he was open to ideas about how the fuel tax could be applied.
However, President Macron’s speech does not appear to have gone far enough in assuaging people of the view that he is out of touch with ordinary people.
One female protester has died and more than 200 were injured as about 280,000 people took to the streets of France, angry at rising fuel prices.
The “yellow vests”, so-called after the high-visibility jackets they are required to carry in their cars, blocked highways and roundabouts.
They accuse President Emmanuel Macron of abandoning “the little people”.
The protester who died was struck after a driver surrounded by demonstrators panicked and accelerated.
President Macron has not so far commented on the protests, some of which have seen demonstrators call for him to resign.
However, he admitted earlier in the week that he had not “really managed to reconcile the French people with their leaders”.
Nonetheless, President Macron accused his political opponents of hijacking the movement in order to block his reform program.
Some 280,000 people took part in protests across France, the interior ministry said in its latest update.
According to the interior ministry, 227 people were injured during the day, seven seriously, with 52 people arrested.
Most of the protests have been taking place without incident although several of the injuries came when drivers tried to force their way through protesters.
The 63-year-old woman was killed in the south-eastern Savoy region when a driver who was taking her daughter to hospital panicked at being blocked by about 50 demonstrators, who were striking the roof of her vehicle, and drove into them.
The female driver has been taken into police custody in a state of shock.
In Paris protesters approaching the Élysée Palace, President Macron’s official residence, were repelled with tear gas.
The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by around 23% over the past 12 months to an average of €1.51 ($1.71) per liter, its highest point since the early 2000s, AFP reports.
World oil prices did rise before falling back again but the Macron government raised its hydrocarbon tax this year by 7.6 cents per liter on diesel and 3.9 cents on petrol, as part of a campaign for cleaner cars and fuel.
The decision to impose a further increase of 6.5 cents on diesel and 2.9 cents on petrol on 1 January 2019 was seen as the final straw.
Speaking on November 14, President Macron blamed world oil prices for three-quarters of the price rise. He also said more tax on fossil fuels was needed to fund renewable energy investments.
The Yellow Vests movement has broad support. Nearly three-quarters of respondents to a poll by the Elabe institute backed the Yellow Vests and 70% wanted the government to reverse the fuel tax hikes.
More than half of French people who voted for Emmanuel Macron support the protests, Elabe’s Vincent Thibault told AFP.
They have certainly tried to tap into it. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who was defeated by Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the presidential election, has been encouraging it on Twitter.
Marine Le Pen tweeted: “The government shouldn’t be afraid of French people who come to express their revolt and do it in a peaceful fashion.”
On November 14, the French government announced action to help poor families pay their energy and transport bills.
PM Edouard Philippe announced that 5.6 million households would receive energy subsidies. Currently 3.6 million receive them.
A state scrap page bonus on polluting vehicles would also be doubled for France’s poorest families, he said, and fuel tax credits would be brought in for people who depend on their cars for work.
Protesters have mocked President Macron relentlessly as “Micron” or “Macaron” (Macaroon) or simply Manu, the short form of Emmanuel, which he famously scolded a student for using.