Local fury after police raid on troubled estate

4th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

LES MUREAUX, France, Oct 4, 2006 (AFP) - Local people reacted with fury Wednesday after French police raided a poor housing project in the western Paris outskirts in search of youths who attacked a police car on Sunday.

LES MUREAUX, France, Oct 4, 2006 (AFP) - Local people reacted with fury Wednesday after French police raided a poor housing project in the western Paris outskirts in search of youths who attacked a police car on Sunday.

The dawn raid on the "Cite des Musiciens" estate in Les Mureaux -- a high-immigration area which was a hot-spot in last November's riots -- led to just one arrest.

It followed clashes with scores of youths on Sunday evening in which seven police were hurt after they tried to arrest a man for a traffic offence. A police car was burned out, and a stun-gun and radios were stolen.

Families complained that police used excessive force to break into apartments. In some, furniture had been overturned and shelves swept clear.

"About 20 officers burst into the flat. They kicked me and my brother to make us lie on the floor. They bashed my head on the ground like I was a piece of shit," said Adama, 17.

"For them we are just a family of blacks and Arabs. They treat us like animals," said his sister Workya.

Francois Garay, Les Mureaux's left-wing mayor, expressed indignation that he had not been informed of the raid -- even though many journalists were tipped off and witnessed events.

"The police react with these aggressive tactics and afterwards it's the people on the ground who have to pick up the pieces," he said.

"I have asked mediators to go out and pass the message to the youth: one year after the 'events', don't fall into the trap," he said.

Wednesday's raid follows a similar high-profile operation a week ago in the southern suburb of Corbeil-Essonnes to make arrests after police officers were attacked several days previously.

With the anniversary approaching of last year's riots, there have been growing warnings of the risks of a new explosion in France's deprived "banlieues".

The right-wing daily Le Figaro on Wednesday quoted interior ministry figures showing that 2,458 police officers were injured in the first six months of the year -- a big increase on 2005 -- and said tensions between police and youths have sharply deteriorated.

"The situation has clearly not changed since the autumn of 2005," sociologist Sebastian Roche told the newspaper. "There is the same logic of confrontation ... One can even say that the level of hostility has escalated."

In a letter leaked to the press last month, the prefect of the Seine-Saint-Denis department in the Paris suburbs -- starting point of the 2005 riots -- warned of worsening crime, low police morale and incitement by Islamic radicals.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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