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Yellow Vest protester killed in south of France

Yellow Vests demonstrate in Paris on 8 December
Yellow Vests demonstrate in Paris on 8 December ABDUL ABEISSA / AFP

A sixth person has died in France's Yellow Vest protests. A 23-year-old man was hit by a truck close to a motorway exit near the southern city of Avignon, officials announced on Thursday.

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The lorry-driver, who is reported to be a Polish national, has been taken into a custody, deputy public prosecutor Caroline Armand told LCI television.

The incident happened overnight at a roundabout near the motorway exit.

The Yellow Vest protests were sparked by a rise in a green tax on fuel but have become a more general protest about living standards and President Emmanuel Macron's style of government.

There has been some vandalism and clashes with police on demonstrations, notably those in Paris on the last three weekends.

Six people have died since the protests started on 17 November:

  • On 17 November a demonstrator was run over by a motorist at a roadblock in the French Alps;
  • On 19 November a motorcyclist was hit by a van that swerved to avoid protesters, dying of his injuries the next day;
  • On the night of 1-2 December a motorist was killed after colliding with a lorry in a tailback caused by a blockade in Arles;
  • On 1 December an 80-year-old woman was injured by a police teargas grenade and died the next day;
  • On 10 December a 25-year-old driver died in a collision with a lorry.

Calls to end protests after Strasbourg

In the aftermath of Tuesday's Strasbourg attack, the government has called on the Yellow Vests to call off their demonstrations but said it would not ban a fourth protest in Paris on Saturday.

They have expressed their anger and "it has been heard"; spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said on Cnews television.

The call was echoed by the leader of one of France's major trade union confederations, talking to RFI.

"It's up to the organisers to say what they intend to do," Laurent Berger of the CFDT said. "But one can clearly see the extreme fatigue of the police and public officers."

"If a union had been responsible for so much violence in a movement it had set off, it would have been ostracised for 20 years at least," he commented, adding that he had misgivings about the Yellow Vests because of "exploitation by the far right".

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