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More than 400 hurt in French fuel price protests - minister

The injured, 409 in total, included 28 police, paramilitary police or firefighters.

FILE: Protesters demonstrate on the Faugbourg Saint-Honore street in Paris on 17 November 2018, during a nationwide popular initiated day of protest called 'yellow vest' (Gilets Jaunes in French) movement to protest against high fuel prices which has mushroomed into a widespread protest against stagnant spending power under French President. Picture: AFP

PARIS - More than 400 people were hurt, 14 seriously, in a day and night of "yellow vest" protests over rising fuel price hikes around France that claimed one life, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Sunday.

The injury toll, more than double the last tally provided on Saturday, followed what Castaner described as a "restive" night in 87 locations around the country where protesters had blocked roads to express their anger at a series of hikes in petrol tax.

The injured, 409 in total, included 28 police, paramilitary police or firefighters.

Castaner told RTL radio that 288,000 people had taken part in Saturday's protests at 2,034 locations countrywide. About 3,500 stayed out overnight, he added.

Police questioned 282 protesters in total, 73 during the night, of whom 157 were taken into custody.

"Last night was restive... There were assaults, fights, stabbings," Castaner said. "There were fights among 'yellow vest' protesters. There was a lot of alcohol at certain venues, which led to this idiotic behaviour."

Protest organisers have called for more demonstrations Sunday at about 150 locations countrywide, the minister added. Protests were reported Sunday several regions across France.

On Saturday, groups blocked roundabouts, major highways and thoroughfares to express anger over increased taxes on fuel and their shrinking purchasing power under President Emmanuel Macron.

Tempers flared at times as some drivers confronted the protesters or tried to force their way through the barricades.

In the eastern Savoie region, authorities said a woman trying to get her daughter to a doctor panicked after protesters surrounded her car and banged on the roof. She accelerated into the crowd and killed a 63-year-old woman.

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

An opinion poll published in the Sunday paper Journal du Dimanche meanwhile indicated that Macron's popularity had dipped a further four points to 25%.

The survey was conducted 9-17 November with 1,957 respondents.

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