French police, tax protesters clash

AFP-JIJI

Riot police fired tear gas at thousands of demonstrators in north-west France on Saturday after some protesters hurled stones and iron bars at them in a rally against a controversial green tax and layoffs.

Three demonstrators were arrested while four protesters and a police officer were injured after scuffles broke out during the protest on Saturday afternoon.

Protest organizers said 30,000 people had gathered in the town of Quimper in Brittany to demonstrate against an environmental tax on trucks and against layoffs, even though the government earlier last week suspended the application of the so-called eco-tax.

Authorities estimate that 15,000 people joined in the protest.

The tax, aimed at encouraging environmentally friendly commercial transport, imposes new levies on French and foreign vehicles transporting commercial goods weighing over 3.5 tons. It came under fire from farmers and food sector workers across the country, but especially in Brittany, where the economy is heavily dependent on agriculture.