- A woman was killed and her husband and daughter seriously injured in a traffic collision at a protest barricade in France on Tuesday.
- Demonstrators had placed straw bales across a road as a barricade, and a car plowed into them, hitting the three victims.
- French President Emmanuel Macron’s government is working to address farmers’ concerns to prevent a wider movement similar to the yellow vest protests in 2019.
Spreading demonstrations by French farmers against low wages and other grievances were hit by tragedy Tuesday when a woman was killed and her husband and daughter seriously injured in a traffic collision at a protest barricade.
A car plowed into straw bales that demonstrators had placed across a road, hitting the three people before it came to a stop against a tractor’s semi-trailer, prosecutor Olivier Mouysset said in a statement.
The fatal crash in southwest France represented a dramatic turn for the growing protest movement among French farmers for better remuneration and against what they consider to be excessive regulation, mounting costs and other problems.
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The months of demonstrations have become increasingly vigorous in recent weeks, with traffic barricades, dumps of foul-smelling agricultural waste outside government offices and other protests. Farmers have also been turning road signs upside down to protest what they argue are nonsensical agricultural policies.
France is one of Europe’s agricultural powerhouses, with powerful farming lobbies but also deep discontent among farmers who say they struggle to make ends meet despite working long hours to feed the country and boost its exports with their produce.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s government has been working to assuage farmers’ concerns before their anger blows up into a wider movement, like the yellow vest protests against economic injustice in 2019 that dented Macron’s popularity and saw frequent violence between protesters and riot police.
Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, newly installed by Macron in a government reshuffle this month, posted Tuesday on social media that “being a farmer means working without respite. It’s working for us, for the French. We are and will remain at their side.”
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The woman hit and killed by a car in the Ariège region of southwestern France was a farmer, Attal said. French media reported that she raised cows.
“All our farmers are in mourning. Our nation is shocked,” Attal said.
Macron, in a social media post, described the accident as a tragedy that “upsets us all” and said he ordered his government to find “concrete solutions” to the difficulties that farmers are highlighting.
The car that rammed into the barricade of straw bales in the Ariege town of Pamiers was carrying three people, the prosecutor said in his statement.
The woman killed in the pre-dawn collision was in her thirties, the statement said. Her husband was seriously injured and hospitalized and their 14-year-old daughter also was helicoptered for hospital treatment and is in critical condition, the prosecutor said.
His statement said the collision did not appear to be intentional. Police detained the three occupants of the car for questioning.
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