One dead, dozens injured in fuel tax protests around France

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Demonstrators receive tear gas on November 17, 2018 in Quimper, western France, during a nationwide popular initiated day of protest called “yellow vest” (Gilets Jaunes in French) movement to protest against high fuel prices. (AFP)
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People run through tear gas on November 17, 2018 in Quimper, western France, during a nationwide popular initiated day of protest called “yellow vest” (Gilets Jaunes in French) movement to protest against high fuel prices. (AFP)
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A demonstrator walks past policemen on November 17, 2018 in Quimper, western France, during a nationwide popular initiated day of protest called “yellow vest” (Gilets Jaunes in French) movement to protest against high fuel prices. (AFP)
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People block Caen’s circular road on November 17, 2018 in Caen, Normandy, 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. (AFP)
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A policeman evacuates a demonstrator on November 17, 2018 in Quimper, western France, during a nationwide popular initiated day of protest called “yellow vest” (Gilets Jaunes in French) movement to protest against high fuel prices. (AFP)
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A man holds a road sign on November 17, 2018 in Quimper, western France, during a nationwide popular initiated day of protest called “yellow vest” (Gilets Jaunes in French) movement to protest against high fuel prices. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2018

One dead, dozens injured in fuel tax protests around France

PARIS: One protester was killed and 106 others were injured at roadblocks set up around France on Saturday as citizens angry at rising fuel taxes rose up in a grassroots movement and posed a new challenge to President Emmanuel Macron.
Police officers lobbed tear gas canisters at demonstrators on the famed Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris as groups tried to make their way to the presidential Elysee Palace. Later, hundreds of protesters entered the bottom of the street dotted with luxury shops where the palace is located — and where Macron lives.
They were seen on BFMTV talking with riot police when the officers suddenly raised their shields and pushed the group back.
French Interior Ministry officials estimated that about 244,000 protesters were involved in several thousand protests around the country, many of them spontaneous.
The protester who died, a 63-year-old woman, was killed when a driver caught in the blockade accelerated in a panic at Pont-de-Beauvoisin, near Chambery, according to Louis Laugier, the prefect, or top state official, in the eastern Savoie region. According to various French media reports, protesters reportedly knocked on her car as she tried to take her daughter to a hospital. An investigation was opened.
Five people were seriously injured, while the others had more minor injuries, the Interior Ministry said in an early evening statement, raising an earlier count. It said 52 people were detained and 38 held for questioning.
Protesters, wearing yellow safety vests and dubbing themselves the “yellow jackets,” pledged to target tollbooths, roundabouts and the bypass that ring Paris. The fluorescent yellow vests donned by the protesters must be kept in the vehicles of all French drivers in case of car troubles.
The ministry said security forces used tear gas in several places besides the Champs-Elysees to unblock major routes, including firing about 30 canisters at the entrance to the Mont Blanc tunnel.
The nationwide protest was unusual due to its grassroots origins. It arose from within the citizenry, backed neither by unions nor politicians, although some took part in a clear bid for supporters.
The amateur nature of the protests, often spontaneous and therefore illegal, made it tricky for police, who had orders to use dialogue over force but to stop protesters from completely blocking major routes or endangering lives or property.
The situation on the Champs-Elysees, for instance, was confusing, with the protest producing a party atmosphere at some points and angry confrontations at others.
Police fired tear gas when a group moved into a street near the presidential palace. Hundreds of protesters took over the Place de la Concorde at the bottom of the avenue, shouting “Macron resign” as police looked on. By evening, 1,200 protesters remained in the Place “protected by police,” the Interior Ministry said.
The rise in fuel taxes, notably for diesel fuel, spoke to those French who feel the president has asked ordinary citizens to make the largest efforts in his bid to transform France.
The taxes are part of Macron’s strategy to wean France off fossil fuels. Many drivers see them as emblematic of a presidency they view as disconnected from day-to-day economic difficulties and serving the rich.
The yellow jacket protests drew supporters angry about other issues, too, including diminishing buying power.
Macron’s popularity has plunged, hovering around 30 percent.
Robert Tichit, 67, a retiree, referred to the president as “King Macron.”
“We’ve had enough of it. There are too many taxes in this country,” he said.


16 dead as trains collide in Bangladesh

Updated 23 min 23 sec ago

16 dead as trains collide in Bangladesh

DHAKA: Two packed trains collided in Bangladesh on Tuesday, killing at least 16 people and injuring nearly 60 others, police said.
Three coaches were sent crashing off the tracks at Mondobhag station in the town of Kasba when a Dhaka-bound train collided with one heading to Chittagong.
“At least 16 people have been killed. And another 58 were injured. We have sent the injured to different hospitals in the region,” local police chief Anisur Rahman told AFP.
Cranes and other lifting gear were brought in to rescue trapped passengers, many of whom were asleep when the early morning crash took place.
“There was a loud noise, then I saw the train was completely ripped apart,” one injured passenger told Somoy TV.
“All the people around me were crying. There was blood everywhere. Some people had broken hands and legs,” another told the broadcaster.

Two packed trains rammed into each other in Bangladesh, killing at least 16 people and injuring nearly 60 others. (AFP)

“My son was with me. I still don’t know what happened to him,” the man added.
Hayat ud Doula Khan, a government official in the district, said the Dhaka-bound Turna Nishitha train, hit the Chittagong-bound Udayan Express at about 3:00 am (2100 GMT Monday) as the Udayan was about to go through Mondobhog station.
Khan told AFP that the Turna Nishitha train should have waited outside the station to let the other one pass. A Bangladesh railway official told reporters faulty signals could be to blame.
“Three coaches were badly mangled and the victims are from these coaches,” Khan said, adding that train services out of Dhaka had been halted because of the accident.
Train accidents are common in Bangladesh and are often caused by poor signalling or other rundown infrastructure.
According to the Shipping and Communication Reporters Forum (SCRF), a private media research group, between January 1 and June 30 this year, at least 202 rail accidents took place in the South Asian country of 168 million people where some of the track is a century old.
In June, a train plunged into a canal after the bridge it was crossing gave way. Five people were killed and 100 injured.
The SCRF said pedestrians using mobile phones while crossing tracks, negligence by railway employees and poor maintenance of lines and bridges were the main cause of accidents.