France confronts rising gang violence

6th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 6, 2007 (AFP) - Facing a rise in gang violence, French authorities on Thursday announced measures to prevent a repeat of recent street fighting in which youths armed with sticks and machetes clashed in Paris.

PARIS, Sept 6, 2007 (AFP) - Facing a rise in gang violence, French authorities on Thursday announced measures to prevent a repeat of recent street fighting in which youths armed with sticks and machetes clashed in Paris.

Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie met with heads of government from the Paris region and police chiefs after a report by the RG police intelligence agency showed gang violence was up 29 percent since January in France.

The minister said a new "coordination cell" of top officials would be set up to ensure a quick response and that regulations would be changed to allow police reinforcements to be swiftly sent to troublespots.

Two years after France was rocked by rioting in its immigrant-heavy suburbs, dozens of youths clashed in Paris three times in a week.

Police have described the violence as a "relatively new" type of gang warfare in the French capital.

About 15 people were arrested in fighting on Sunday near the Gare du Nord train station, a few days after some 150 youths from two rival gangs fought in the former red-light district of Pigalle, armed with machetes, sticks and hammers, according to police.

Two people were slightly injured in fighting the previous night near Gare du Nord.

"In the past, this type of violence was confined to some neighborhoods in housing projects" in the suburbs, said Paris prosecutor Laurent Le Mesle.

"With this recent round of clashes, we see that groups are leaving their respective territories and coming to Paris to settle their scores. This is rather new and worrisome," Le Mesle told Le Parisien newspaper.

The prosecutor said his office would be seeking tougher penalties against gang members and that police would step up ID checks.

In a report quoted by Le Monde newspaper, police described the gangs as "comprised mostly of invividuals of sub-Saharan origin, who use names, codes and dress inspired by black American groups."

The gang warfare is linked to territorial rivalries including battles for control of key areas for drug-trafficking, according to the report.

AFP

Subject: French news

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