Police crackdown rounds up ambush suspects

25th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

CORBEIL-ESSONNES, France, Sept 25, 2006 (AFP) - Some 220 police raided a housing project south of Paris Monday in a spectacular dawn crackdown to catch suspects involved in a violent ambush last week of two officers.

CORBEIL-ESSONNES, France, Sept 25, 2006 (AFP) - Some 220 police raided a housing project south of Paris Monday in a spectacular dawn crackdown to catch suspects involved in a violent ambush last week of two officers.

Eleven people including two minors were arrested after police braved a rain of bottles and other projectiles to move in on the tough Tarterets estate in the Corbeil-Essonnes suburb, officials said.

The swoop came after Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, a leading presidential contender who has championed hardline law-and-order policies, vowed to catch those responsible "one by one".

It came nearly a year after riots flared in this suburb and others across France protesting against the authorities and prompting the government to impose a three-month state of emergency that ended in January.

Monday's raids — carried out by 140 regular officers and 80 riot police — were prompted by the savage beating of two members of the CRS anti-riot police who had been patrolling the housing estate in an unmarked car last Wednesday.

A hail of stones led to one of the officers getting out to investigate, at which point around 20 youths who had been hiding in bushes leapt out and assaulted him. His colleague, who rushed to help, was also beaten.

Both officers suffered injuries to the face and head, as well as bruising to the body. One was hospitalised.

According to police, the alleged perpetrators were identified by fingerprints and DNA traces left on the remains of meals, notably pizza boxes. Several of them had criminal records.

Police unions had reacted with outrage to the incident, while the left-wing opposition and some French newspapers said it underlined the failure of Sarkozy's heavy-handed policies in the suburbs.

The same day, a newspaper published a letter by a state-appointed governor a flashpoint area north of Paris, warning the situation remained explosive a year after the riots, with rising crime and a demotivated police force.

Echoing his comments, the mayor of the west suburb of Chanteloup-les-Vignes, deputy Pierre Cardo of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), warned that a "spark is all it will take for the situation to explode again."

"The government has undoubtedly made an effort towards these neighbourhoods. But we mustn't kid ourselves: these areas are still police no-go areas."

Under fire, the interior minister hit back by accusing judges in the north suburbs of "abdicating" their responsibilities by letting arrested young offenders off lightly in court.

That sparked a sharp row with senior magistrates that led to President Jacques Chirac stepping in to admonish Sarkozy by saying he had full confidence in the judges — though a subsequent survey showed that many French voters sided with Sarkozy's comments.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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