Scattered tax protests persist in France; injuries up to 409

People wearing yellow vests a symbol of a French drivers' nationwide protest against higher fuel prices block the Paris Brussels motorway in Haulchin France

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Most protests passed peacefully but at some places tempers flared and drivers tried to force their way through the roadblocks.

France was shaken Saturday by the biggest demonstrations since Macron took office.

"This is what we were anxious about ... unorganised demonstrations by people who aren't necessarily used to such things", Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in a statement.

The protesters are nicknamed "yellow vests" for the high-visibility jackets they wear.

In the eastern Savoie region, a 63-year-old woman was killed when a mother trying to take her daughter to see a doctor panicked after protesters surrounded their vehicle, and suddenly accelerated into the crowd.

Protesters blame a 20 percent rise in diesel prices in the past year on the so-called green taxes under President Emmanuel Macron.

By early evening, 73 people had been taken into custody, and some demonstrators were still in place at nightfall.

Protesters remain at about 150 sites on Sunday, BFMTV reported.

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In those cities, low- and moderate-income families increasingly struggle to afford housing anywhere near their workplaces. Meanwhile, the average cost of a single-family house has increased by almost 90 percent to an average price of $844,000.

The protests began at the end of previous year after higher fuel taxes were introduced.

As well as the one death, there have also been 47 people injured, including three seriously, according to the French government.

Another woman driving a auto panicked when she encountered a roadblock and ran over a protester, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Saturday on live television.

Protesters aim to target tollbooths, roundabouts and the bypass that rings Paris, while the government is preparing to send police to remove protesters and threatening fines.

On Saturday a female protester was accidentally killed when a woman driver caught up in the blockade accelerated in panic and crashed into the crowd. 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.

"We're on maximum alert", he said, reiterating that police would ensure that no roads were completely blocked in order to ensure people's safety.

The protesters' chief complaint: the rising cost of diesel fuel. But beyond the diesel issue, many turned out Saturday to voice any number of other frustrations with the "president for the rich", who is seen as increasingly removed from ordinary people's concerns. "There are too many taxes in this country", he told The Associated Press.

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