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French police dislodge fuel protesters as movement wanes (for now)

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French police dislodge fuel protesters as movement wanes (for now)
Photo: AFP
14:09 CET+01:00
Protesters angry over high fuel taxes were back out on the roads across France on Tuesday for a fourth day however numbers had dropped to around 10,000. The French government has asked police to clear the road blocks while the interior minister blasted a radicalisation of the movement.
LATEST on Tuesday:
  • Road blocks are back in place in many French regions
  • However numbers protesting drop to around 10,000
  • Interior Minister blasts the radicalisation of the movement
  • Police ordered to clear the blockades
  • Images show protesters burning motorway toll near Bordeaux
  • Some 528 people have been injured since Saturday
  • 92 police and gendarmes have been injured including 17 seriously

France's 'yellow vest' protests entered the fourth day on Tuesday but the movement appeared to be losing steam with only around 10,000 people still manning the barricades nationwide, down from nearly 300,000 on Saturday. 

But the movement could easily gain strength at the weekend when further protests are planned with some calling for a mass blockade of Paris.

Protesters are determined to keep up the pressure on President Emmanuel Macron who they blame for a rise in the price of petrol and a loss of their spending power.

The French government has become increasingly concerned and frustrated that the movement has become radicalised.

After images were published online showing yellow vest wearing protesters burning a motorway toll at Virsac, the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner denounced a "total drift" of the movement suggesting that while it was mainly good natured on Saturday it has now become radicalised. 

"We can see today that there has been a "total drift" (dérive totale") of a movement that was mainly held in good spirits on Saturday," he told France 2 radio.

"We can see there is a radicalisaton with incoherent demands that are all over the place," Castaner said.

The interior minister announced that 92 police and gendarmes had been injured. 

Speaking on Monday evening Castaner appealed to protesters to end the road blocks.

"I make a solemn but firm appeal to protesters to carry on demonstrating if they wish but not to block or attack the people's freedom. The operations to clear the blockades will continue," he said.

Some 28,000 protesters took part in go-slow and road blocks on Monday. One person was accidentally killed and 528 people have been injured, 17 seriously, during the "Yellow Vest" protests.
 
 
(Protesters against police at Virsac on the A10 near Bordeaux. AFP)
 
 
Protesters against police at Virsac on the A10 near Bordeaux. AFP)
 
   
As the protests rumbled on, it emerged four men were taken into custody and charged as part of an anti-terrorist investigation in the southeastern city of Saint-Etienne on Saturday -- the first day of the blockades -- accused of planning to take advantage of the police mobilisation for the demonstrations to mount a terror attack, according to Le Parisien newspaper.
 
One of the suspects texted his fiancee saying, "It's going to bleed on November 17", the newspaper said. Officials were not immediately available to 
comment on the report.
 
 
Blockades around France
 
On Tuesday, in the town of Cournon-d'Auvergne, located in the outskirts of Clermont-Ferrand in central France in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region a fuel depot has been blocked since Monday evening by protesters, according to local reports. 
 
Meanwhile in the Yonne department in the northeastern Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, the demonstrators set up on Tuesday morning on the roundabout of Rosa Park, south of the town of Sens after riot police were forced to unblock a site in the same area where 200 trucks were immobilized.
 
 
In the Côtes-d'Armor, "yellow vests" are reportedly still present in the towns of Plaintel, Langueux, Loudéac, Dinan and Guingamp.
 
However, dozens of "yellow vests" that were blocking the oil depot of Vern-sur-Seiche, south of Rennes, were removed by the riot police at around 6:45 am on Tuesday. 
 
In the Indre department, a filtered blockade is affecting traffic in the centre of the town of Saint-Maur, with traffic also being filtered in Argenton-sur-Creuse. 
 
In the town of Montierchaume, the roads are totally blocked between Châteauroux and Issoudun. 
 
And in Corsica, the "yellow vests" have lifted the blockade of the Marana oil depot, south of Bastia however they have warned that there may be further action. 
 
On Monday, security forces cleared protesters from several sites, including a suspension bridge leading to the southwestern city of Bordeaux that had been 
blocked for three days.
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TrishH - 21 Nov 2018 14:12
We had a cardiologist specialist rdv on Monday we found the roads blocked on our normal route We were forced to take a detour through the clay roads of the vineyards. Single track with cars/vans in both directions! It was frightening as there were deep culverts either side of the track. It took us miles our of our way, added 30 mins to our journey and we arrived exhausted and frayed. Such indiscri-minate blocking of roads where there is no prior notice is untennable. We took a different route home to avoid the jams, but again, this was a major detour, and took 45mins more than usual. If we did not have a full tank of fuel, what might have happened if we had run out ? If road blockages are to be put in place, then there needs to be proper organisation by the police and advance warning of where the blockages are to be found. To do these pop-up blockages just after the devastating flooding in the area, is unconscionable. People are traumatised enough, without having extra pressures put on their activities in this way.
Freddy - 22 Nov 2018 19:38
Let's be thankful that at last the police have been ordered to break up the blockades.
Normally they just sit there enjoying the spectacle. This tougher stance is essential to counteract the takeover of a peaceful protest by the ever present radical element who are hell bent to destroy any democracy.
Freddy
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