Sarkozy 'satisfied' with French New Year restraint
Sarkozy said Tuesday he was "satisfied" with New Year's Eve celebrations across the countryPARIS, January 1, 2008 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday he
was "satisfied" with New Year's Eve celebrations across the country which
passed off without any major security headaches.
Flanked by Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, Sarkozy was speaking at
an Elysee function to 1,000 invited representatives of public sector staff who
worked through the night of Monday to maintain emergency and other essential
"The (security) toll from (Monday) night is satisfactory, right across the
board there were fewer fire-starting incidents and, particularly pleasing,
practically no confrontations between gangs or with the police," Sarkozy said.
"There were very few injuries, we can only be happy with the outcome."
According to police statistics released Tuesday, 372 cars were torched in
the French suburbs (273 "deliberately") and 259 people arrested -- taken as a
whole, less than last year, and of particular relief to the government given
that rioting in the Paris suburbs at the end of November remains fresh in the
Four police officers were lightly injured in clashes but there was no
vandalism of public buildings or private residences in the high-immigrant
suburbs, police said.
With 400,000 people converging on Paris's chic Champs Elysees avenue alone,
Alliot-Marie had ordered some 13,000 police and security officers on patrol
overnight in the Paris region to ensure revelries did not turn violent.
Clashes erupted in the Paris suburb of Villiers le Bel in November after
two teenage boys died in a motorbike collision with a police car, sparking
fears of a repeat of the 2005 riots that exploded in the suburbs.
Strasbourg, on France's eastern frontier with Germany, reported one of the
highest individual counts of burned cars, while in the south-west, some 200
residents in the village of Caves, in the Aude district, had to be evacuated
following a gas leak triggered by fire-cracker throwing 45 minutes after the
bells (2345 GMT).
Regional fire safety officers said they intervened to tame 12-metre
(40-feet) flames shooting out of a gas tank, with locals, deprived of gas and
electricity, allowed back to their homes at 1:00 pm (1200 GMT).