Youth armed with sticks battle police in Paris suburb

30th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

MONTFERMEIL, France, May 30, 2006 (AFP) - Around 100 youths armed with sticks and baseball bats clashed with police in a Paris suburb early Tuesday, in the worst such violence since the riots of last November, police said.

MONTFERMEIL, France, May 30, 2006 (AFP) - Around 100 youths armed with sticks and baseball bats clashed with police in a Paris suburb early Tuesday, in the worst such violence since the riots of last November, police said.

Youths attacked the mayor's home in Montfermeil, east of Paris, at around 10:30pm Monday, shaking its gates and hurling stones at the windows before facing off with police who responded with rubber bullets.

Youths also attacked the town hall, shattering its glass facade with stones and throwing Molotov cocktails which failed to ignite, and set fire to four cars and a large number of garbage bins.

Some 250 police officers were deployed to tackle the violence as it spread to the nearby Bosquets housing estate, where gangs of masked youths clashed with police for more than four hours.

Seven police officers were slightly injured by projectiles and three youths arrested in the violence, with calm returning at around 2:30 am Tuesday. At daybreak Tuesday, the streets of the Bosquets estate were strewn with stones, broken glass and the smouldering remains of burnt garbage.

Trouble was also reported in the neighbouring suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois — where last autumn's riots started following the electrocution of two teenagers who believed they were being chased by police.

Around 60 youths were involved in clashes with police in the Chene estate in the town.

The Montfermeil area has been tense since the centre-right mayor Xavier Lemoine in April adopted tough anti-delinquency measures, which notably ban gatherings of more than three youths in the town centre.

The mayor and his family have been targeted by local youths before over the measures and Lemoine was given police protection after his residence was stoned in late April.

"Tonight's violence showed that the lives of my family and my seven children are in danger," he said Tuesday.

A member of Lemoine's office said however that Monday's trouble was sparked by the arrest of a youth accused of assaulting a bus driver and was not directly linked to the mayor's anti-riot measures.

He said the mayor witnessed the assault and helped identified the suspect, who was arrested on Monday, sparking a stand-off between youths and the police.

Run-down estates in Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil were the epicentre of the three weeks of rioting that broke out last autumn, spreading at one point to 300 low-income areas across the country.

Some 10,000 cars and 200 public buildings were torched in the frenzy of violence, leading to more than 5,000 arrests and 400 jail convictions.

The riots, which mainly involved French youths of Arab and African origin,  laid bare the problems of poverty and ethnic discrimination faced by many in France's ghetto-like suburban estates.

Following the unrest, the centre-right government promised a string of measures to fight discrimination and improve access to education, jobs and housing for residents of the riot-hit areas.

Despite the government's action, however, more than four in five French people said in January they feared the riots could flare up again.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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