World

More than 2K trucks block French highways to protest freight tax

  • A farmer burn straw bales as farmers block a main road, facing the police, in Arles, southern France, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Demonstrators are protesting against the controversial governmental environment “eco-tax”. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

    A farmer burn straw bales as farmers block a main road, facing the police, in Arles, southern France, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Demonstrators are protesting against the controversial governmental environment “eco-tax”. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)  (The Associated Press)

  • A farmer throws a tire towards police as farmers block a main road, facing the police, in Arles, southern  France,Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Demonstrators are protesting against the controversial governmental environment “eco-tax”. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

    A farmer throws a tire towards police as farmers block a main road, facing the police, in Arles, southern France,Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Demonstrators are protesting against the controversial governmental environment “eco-tax”. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)  (The Associated Press)

  • Farmers burn tires as they block a main road in Arles, southern  France,Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Demonstrators are protesting against the controversial governmental environment “eco-tax”. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

    Farmers burn tires as they block a main road in Arles, southern France,Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Demonstrators are protesting against the controversial governmental environment “eco-tax”. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)  (The Associated Press)

Between 2,000 and 4,000 freight trucks have closed off major French highways and slowed traffic to a crawl on nine roadways to protest a proposed environmental tax on heavy loads.

France's Socialist government in late October suspended the tax, which initially was the focus of numerous protests in the region of Brittany, where opponents donned red caps in a series of demonstrations that sometimes erupted into violence and vandalism against the still-unused payment kiosks.

France's Interior Ministry estimated 2,100 trucks took part; the protest's organizer, OTRE, which represents truckers, counted 4,000. The group pledged not to attack the kiosks but said they want the tax cancelled entirely.

At a Friday night protest in Arles, hundreds of farmers tried to reach a kiosk but were blocked by police.