France: 6th 'yellow vest' protester dies in road accident

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PARIS (AP) — A sixth “yellow vest” protester has been killed in France after being hit by a truck at a road blockade near the southern city of Avignon, French authorities said Thursday, as the protest movement showed no signs of abating.

Officials in the Vaucluse department said the driver was arrested and taken into custody after he tried to flee the scene. The Vaucluse prefect’s office said the protester got emergency treatment but died from his wounds overnight.

The prefect urged the protesters — who wear the yellow fluorescent safety vests that France requires drivers to keep in their cars — to use “the utmost caution,” especially at night, in order to avoid more accidents.

In an effort to defuse tensions, French President Emmanuel Macron has acknowledged he’s partially responsible for the anger that has fueled the protests and has announced a series of measures aimed at improving the spending power of ordinary French workers.

But many yellow vest protesters have expressed disappointment at the measures and are planning more protests across France on Saturday.

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Macron’s centrist government is also going to face a no-confidence vote in the lower house of parliament later Thursday. The vote, prompted by far-left and Socialist lawmakers, is not expected to succeed, however, as Macron’s party and its allies have a strong majority at the National Assembly.

Fearing more violence at protests this weekend, authorities have already postponed five French league soccer matches as the government diverts police to deploy extra security around the country following the extremist attack Tuesday that left three people dead in Strasbourg.

The French league says the reason for the cancellations is because police forces are being stretched.

France has raised its three-stage threat index to the highest level and deployed 1,800 additional soldiers across France to help patrol streets and secure crowded events in the wake of the Strasbourg attack on a Christmas market. More than 700 officers are involved in the manhunt for the 29-year-old suspect, Cherif Chekatt, who had a long criminal record and had been flagged for extremism, according to government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.

He urged the “yellow vest” protesters not to take to the streets.

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See the AP’s coverage of France’s protests at: https://apnews.com/FranceProtests

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