December 20, 2018 / 12:20 PM / 5 months ago

Death toll in French 'yellow vest' protests rises to nine

FILE PHOTO: French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner attends a ceremony at the Police Prefecture in Paris, France, December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - The death toll linked to France’s anti-government “yellow vest” protests has risen to nine, the government said on Thursday, as demonstrators kept up major disruptions of road traffic.

“There has been a ninth death, this morning in Agen, by a roundabout. It was a ‘Yellow Vest’ who was protesting outside but was not following roadway safety instructions,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters.

Local officials said the latest victim, a man aged about 60, was hit by a truck near a motorway where demonstrators had been gathering.

Most of the nine deaths have occurred as a result of road accidents, since protesters have been blocking off roundabouts and damaging motorway toll booths.

The “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protesters - named after the high-visibility jackets French motorists must carry in their cars - launched their demonstration in mid-November to rally against fuel tax increases.

But the movement has since evolved into a wider backlash against the economic reforms of President Emmanuel Macron, and protests in Paris this month were marred by major outbreaks of violence and vandalism.

Reporting by Julie Carriat; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta/Inti Landauro and Mark Heinrich

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