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Farmers call off Paris blockade after driver dies and six injured

French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll
French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll RFI

Farmers in the Paris region called off a blockade of the French capital on Thursday after the death of a firefighter on his way to work and a second accident that injured six people.

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Transport Minister Frédéric Cuvillier called for the "immediate lifting" of the blockade on hearing that a firefighter on his way to work before dawn died after his car crashed into a truck taking part in the blockade.

Organisers later called off the protest, which had been due to end at about midday.

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Six people suffered mild injuries in a second accident involving a farmer's truck and an anti-riot police vehicle, the minister's office said.

Tractors blocked a road south-west of Paris and convoys of farmers' vehicles slowed traffic on motorways, including the A6 to Lyon and the A10 to Bordeaux, and main roads.

Cuvillier claimed that horses had been spotted on one road.

Socialist MP and former agriculture minister Jean Glavany called the blockade a "real scandal", declaring "the idea of preventing people from going to work, take their children to the creche or college is unacceptable".

Two regional farmers' union called the action without consulting their national leaders to protest at tax rises and "more and more demanding environmental norms, increasing checks and stronger regulatory mechanisms".

They are particularly angry about the reallocation of subsidies to help cattle farmers at the expense of grain producers.

They also called for the resignation of Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll.

The barrier where the fatal accident took place was lifted out of "compassion", according to FDSEA leader Damien Griffin, who insisted that the protesters were not responsible for the firefighter's death.

Other regional farmers' unions have called a protest on 29 November.

Le Foll said Thursday that he was open to dialogue but would not "give in to untimatums".

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