Yellow Vests accuse gov’t of plotting Strasbourg attack

                By Yusuf Ozcan</p>    <p>PARIS (AA) - Yellow vest protesters on Wednesday accused the French government of staging the &quot;terror&quot; attack in Strasbourg to shadow the protests scheduled for the weekend. </p>    <p>In a social media post, yellow vests alleged that the late Tuesday shooting at a Christmas market in Strasbourg was plotted by the French government.</p>    <p>Emphasizing that the attack came a day after the French President Emmanuel Macron's statements on the yellow vest protests and the upcoming demonstrations, the post said the attack couldn't be a mere coincidence. </p>    <p>The post on the social media attracted numerous comments. </p>    <p>Phinou Cetout, a social media user, said: &quot;The attack occurred a day after [President] Macron's statements and before the planned Saturday’s demonstrations. Are they fooling people?&quot;</p>    <p>Maxime Nicolle, known as one of the leading names of the yellow vest movement, shared a video on a page called &quot;Fly Ryder&quot;, arguing that the assailant wouldn't go to an uncrowded street late night to perform such act and said he would have preferred Champs-Elysees.</p>    <p>&quot;Macron and the government intentionally carried out the attacks to bring the state of emergency and avert the yellow vest protests,&quot; another user said.</p>    <p>Some other users called on the protesters to calm down. </p>    <p>Meanwhile, French Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez spoke to France Inter radio about the allegations against the government and said:  &quot;I'm really angry; how can one say something like that?&quot;</p>  <p> </p>  <p>Nunez said that he was aware of the &quot;conspiracy theories” being spread by the social media accounts of yellow vests.</p>  <p> </p>    <p>- Armed attack

On Tuesday night, a gunman opened fire at a Christmas market in Place Kleber square before leaving the scene. The French police stated that security forces raided the gunman's house but failed to find him.

Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz said that two people were killed and one left in the vegetative state, while more than a dozen were wounded, with six in critical condition.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, for his part, said that the government has raised its security threat level to "attack emergency," following the attack.

– Root of protests

Since Nov. 17, thousands of protesters wearing bright yellow vests — dubbed the Yellow Vests — have been gathering in major French cities, including the capital Paris, to protest Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation.

The demonstrators, who generally live in rural areas due to high rents in the cities, have called on Macron to cut fuel taxes and ease their economic difficulties.

According to a recent survey, 84 percent of the French people — mostly from the middle-income group — support the protests.

Fuel prices in France have risen more than 20 percent this year.

– Macron’s statement

The French President Macron said that taxes on overtime pay would be abolished as of next year and announced social security tax cuts for pensioners earning less than €2,000.

However, the protesters have found President Macron's statement “insufficient.”

<p>*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this story from Ankara