Cars torched in French suburbs on New Year's Eve
370 cars were torched in the French suburbs and 259 people arrestedPARIS, January 2, 2008 - More than 370 cars were torched in the French
suburbs and 259 people arrested, but police said Tuesday that New
Year's celebrations were calmer than last year's festivities.
Four police officers were slightly injured in clashes but there was no
vandalism of public buildings or private residences in the high-immigrant
suburbs, police said.
"Overall the evening was relatively calm without any major incident," said
a police spokesman, adding that there had been "very few clashes with security
forces and tension in sensitive areas was significantly lower than previous
Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie had ordered some 13,000 police and
security officers on patrol overnight in the Paris region to ensure New Year's
revelries did not turn violent.
Clashes erupted in the Paris suburb of Villiers le Bel in November after
two teenage boys died in a motorbike collision with a police car, sparking
fears of a repeat of the 2005 riots that exploded in the suburbs.
Overnight, a total of 372 cars were set on fire, slightly less than the 397
that were torched last year, but the number of arrests was about the same with
259 people detained overnight compared to 258 last year, police said.
Despite a huge crowd of 400,000 people who packed the Champs Elysees to see
in the New Year -- about the same number as last year -- police said there
were no major incidents.