Police shot in French suburb clashes

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Four French police officers were injured with lead shot in clashes with masked youths in a south Paris suburb.

   PARIS, March 3, 2008  - Four French police officers were injured with
lead shot in clashes with masked youths in a south Paris suburb, in what
Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie described Monday as an "ambush".
   According to an interior ministry statement, the officers were called to a
high-rise estate in Grigny on Sunday after a local bakery was vandalised.
   When they arrived, they were confronted by "around 30 people whose faces
were masked and several of whom were armed," it said.
   Three officers were treated at the scene after being hit in the face by
lead shot. A fourth was hospitalised with leg injuries caused by lead shot and
nails.
   Calm returned late Sunday after massive police reinforcements were sent to
the neighbourhood.
   Alliot-Marie called for the gun-toting youths to be identified and face
"exemplary sentences."
   Several dozen police officers were similarly wounded last November during
three days of riots in the north Paris suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, raising
fears of a repeat of nationwide unrest in 2005.
   Hundreds of French police, including special forces, raided Villiers-le-Bel
last month, arresting and charging 19 suspected ringleaders of the violence,
in one of the biggest operations of its kind ever staged in France.
   Tensions have run high in France's low-income suburbs since the riots of
2005, the country's worst civil unrest in decades.
   President Nicolas Sarkozy last Month this month launched an aid programme
for the suburbs, which are home to high proportion of African immigrants and
where youth unemployment runs at up to 40 percent.
   But the president also vowed a "war without mercy" against crime.

AFP 

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