Government vow to restore order fails to stop riots

4th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 4 (AFP) - Further serious rioting broke out on the outskirts of Paris early Friday as gangs of youths challenged authorities' vow to crack down on urban violence that has plagued the French capital for over a week.

PARIS, Nov 4 (AFP) - Further serious rioting broke out on the outskirts of Paris early Friday as gangs of youths challenged authorities' vow to crack down on urban violence that has plagued the French capital for over a week.

Police said some 400 cars were torched, mostly in the Paris region, while 27 buses went up in flames at a depot, although there were fewer overnight clashes between police and 'troublemakers' than on Thursday, a police spokesman said.

To the west of Paris, the 27 buses in the Trappes depot were burnt in a fire that swept through the building at around 5am.

Buses, fire engines and police were again stoned in the Paris suburbs, with five policemen reported slightly injured, a police spokesman said.

As dawn broke, the situation was "tending to calm down," he added.

One of the worst incidents took place at Neuilly-sur-Marne where police vans came under fire from pellet pistols, causing no injuries.

Neuilly-sur-Marne is in the worst-hit northeastern suburban region of Seine-Saint-Denis, where 1,300 officers have been deployed.

A fire was also started in a primary school in Stains, as police were targeted by a group of 30 to 40 people near a synagogue.

Paris firemen fought a blaze at a carpet warehouse in Aulnay-sous-Bois in Seine-Saint-Denis. Truck drivers told an AFP reporter that they had seen a group of youths briefly enter the building beforehand.

And for the first time since the troubles erupted on Thursday last week, there were sporadic signs of copycat rampages elsewhere in France.

Police said several cars in the eastern city of Dijon were set alight, while similar attacks took place in the western Seine-Maritime region and the Bouches-du-Rhone in the south of the country.

The rioting marks a direct challenge to the authority of the French government, and to prime minister Dominique de Villepin in particular.

Villepin on Thursday vowed before parliament that authorities "will not give in" to the violence and would make restoring order their "absolute top priority".

"I will not allow organised gangs to make the law in the suburbs," Villepin declared.

The clashes have gained territory virtually every night since they began, exposing what commentators have labelled a blatant failure of successive governments to address the problems of low-income, high-immigration suburbs dominated by grim public housing estates, some of them little more than ghettos where crime and gangs run rampant.

The riots were sparked last week by the accidental electrocution of two teenagers who had hidden in an electrical sub-station to escape a police identity check in the suburb at the epicentre of the troubles, Clichy-sous-Bois.

The opposition Socialist Party and many in the suburbs themselves blamed hardline policies by interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy for fanning the violence.

Sarkozy, who Thursday said the total number of people arrested was over 140, vowed a "war without mercy" on crime and rebellious youths in the suburbs just before the rampages erupted.

The minister, leader of the conservative UMP ruling party and with ambitions of running for president in two years' time, has drawn criticism for his tough rhetoric, especially for referring to delinquents as "rabble".

On Thursday, he claimed that recent rioting "was not spontaneous, it was perfectly organized -- we are looking into by whom and how."

Villepin -- who cancelled a trip to Canada to tackle the crisis -- said the violence was "unacceptable". President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday called for calm, warning that an escalation would be "dangerous".

The country has 751 neighbourhoods officially classed as severely disadvantaged, housing a total of five million people, around eight percent of the population.

Many of France's estimated five million Muslims live in those suburbs. Thursday night was the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a night traditionally marked by feasts and family get-togethers.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article