France limits petrol sales to curb New Year car torchings
France is to limit sales of petrol and other combustibles on New Year's Eve in a bid to curb what has become an annual tradition of revellers torching hundreds of cars, police said.
Youths in the often depressed suburbs of French cities have been torching hundreds of vehicles on New Year's Eve since the early 1990s in what police say has become a competition to see which area can cause the most damage.
Police last year said they would no longer release figures for the number of vehicles set on fire to put an end to the "competition and ranking" that had emerged, with more than 1,000 vehicles being torched every year.
In a police circular seen by AFP, Interior Minister Claude Gueant urged security forces to "mobilise with the greatest vigilance" for the New Year's Eve celebrations on Saturday.
Instruction sent with the circular said local security forces should take all measures necessary including "restricting retail sales of petrol."
In Paris, where a large crowd is expected to gather for the annual celebration on the Champs Elysees, police have banned the sale of "domestic combustibles" such as lighter fuel from Wednesday to Monday.
Alcohol sales have also been banned around the Champs Elysees on New Year's Eve.
© 2011 AFP