Youth storm police car in French surburb after two nights of mass rebellion. The police had murdered two young people sparking arson and looting.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
PANW Editor's Note: Footage of youth attacking police positions with petrol bombs outside of Paris can viewed at the following URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
Nearly 80 French police officers have been injured, six seriously, during a second night of riots by youths in the suburbs of Paris, police unions say.
The police say some officers suffered bullet wounds, while others were hurt by stones, fireworks and petrol bombs thrown at them in Villiers-le-Bel.
The youths said they were avenging the two teenagers killed when their motorcycle hit a police car on Sunday.
A senior union official said the riots had been more intense than in 2005.
The 2005 unrest, sparked by the accidental deaths of two youths, spread from a nearby suburb of Paris to other cities and continued for three weeks, during which more than 10,000 cars were set ablaze and 300 buildings firebombed.
The second consecutive night of rioting began early in the evening in Villiers-le-Bel, the northern suburb that saw most of the violence on Sunday.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to keep at bay gangs of youths who were attacking them with stones, fireworks and petrol bombs.
More than 70 vehicles and buildings, including the municipal library, two schools and several shops, were set on fire.
Violence was also reported in four other towns across the Val d'Oise department.
The national secretary of the Synergie police union, Patrice Ribeiro, said at least 77 officers had been injured in the violence and that several had been wounded by shotgun pellets fired at them.
The French Interior Minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, said six police officers had been injured seriously and that they included those who had been "struck in the face and close to the eyes".
Mr Ribeiro said police were facing a situation that was "far worse than that of 2005", which began in the nearby suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.
"Our colleagues will not allow themselves to be fired upon indefinitely without responding," he told the radio station, RTL.
"They will be placed in situations which will become untenable."
On Sunday, about 30 cars and several buildings, including a police station, were torched in Villiers-le-Bel and neighbouring Arnouville.
Twenty-six police and firefighters were injured and nine people were arrested.
Ms Alliot-Marie said she believed the trouble had been organised and correspondents say the scale of the fury involved suggested the riots might have attracted people from outside the area.
The violence happened despite appeals for calm from the families of the two teenagers of Algerian origin whose deaths sparked the violence on Sunday evening.
A state prosecutor has ordered the National Police General Inspectorate (IGPN) - an oversight body - to carry out a detailed inquiry into the circumstances in which the two teenagers - named only as Moushin, 15, and Larami, 16, lost their lives.
Police sources have said that in Sunday's incident, the motorcycle was going at top speed and was not registered for street use, while the two teenagers were not wearing helmets and had been ignoring traffic rules.
The police car was on a routine patrol and the teenagers were not being chased by police at the time, the officials added. But local youths have said the police car's stoved-in bonnet suggests it rammed the teenagers.
The state prosecutor who ordered the investigation, Marie-Therese de Givry, told LCI television that the teenagers had turned into the path of the police car. She said the officers immediately called emergency services to the scene.
Two witnesses are said to have confirmed this, but the teenagers' relatives and other local residents say the police did nothing to help the dying teenagers.
President Sarkozy said he wanted "everyone to calm down and let the justice system decide who was responsible."
Mr Sarkozy was heavily criticised two years ago after he called for crime-ridden neighbourhoods to be "cleaned with a power hose" and described violent elements as "gangrene" and "rabble".
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Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr//1/hi/world/europe/7114175.stmPublished: 2007/11/27 12:08:12 GMT
Scores of police injured in new French riots
November 28 VILLIERS-LE-BEL, France (AFP)-Youths battled police for a second night in Paris suburbs, burning down government buildings and injuring 64 police officers, who stepped up security in troubled towns on Tuesday.
The troubles in six towns north of the French capital -- which were also the scene of major unrest in 2005 -- were sparked by the deaths on Sunday of two teenagers whose motorbike collided with a police car in Villiers-le-Bel.
Police said that one of five officers who were in critical condition in the latest clashes had been shot.
In Villiers, about 100 youths, crouching behind trash cans, hurled objects at 160 riot police who fired rubber bullets and tear gas.
Young rioters in the nearby towns of Sarcelles, Garges-les-Gonesse, Cergy, Ermont and Goussainville were armed with petrol bombs, bottles filled with acid and baseball bats, police said.
The riots lasted about six hours and continued into the early hours of Tuesday.
After the suburban battleground cleared, a helicopter hovered over Villiers, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Paris, looking for potential troublemakers.
Police said 64 officers were injured in the latest clashes and five were in critical condition.
"One policeman was wounded in the shoulder after being hit by a high-calibre bullet," a security official said.
Police said 63 vehicles and five buildings had been torched. Six people were arrested.
A bus, which had no passengers on board, and a truck were set alight in districts near Villiers, police said.
In Villiers, the town finance department building, a library, a nursery school, a driving school, a supermarket and a beauty salon were set ablaze, government officials said.
Youths stoned a police car and a fire engine and looted another vehicle before setting it ablaze. They beat one French television cameraman and stole his camera.
After Sunday's first night of unrest, President Nicolas Sarkozy appealed for calm, with France fearful of a repeat of the nationwide violence that gripped the country in 2005. That followed the deaths of two youths allegedly fleeing police.
Speaking from China where he is on a state trip, Sarkozy called for "all sides to calm down and for the judiciary to decide who bears responsibility" for the deaths of the teenagers.
State prosecutor Marie-Therese Givry ordered an internal police investigation for "involuntary manslaughter and failure to assist persons in danger".
She said however that witnesses had confirmed the police officers' version that the bike smashed into the side of their car during a routine patrol. Neither youth was wearing a helmet.
But Omar Sehhouli, brother of one of the victims, accused police of ramming the motorbike and of running away.
"This is a failure to assist a person in danger... it is 100-percent a (police) blunder. They know it, and that's why they did not stay at the scene," he told France Info radio.
Sehhouli told AFP the rioting "was not violence but an expression of rage."
Police made nine arrests Sunday as rioters torched a police station, two garages, a petrol pump and two shops, and pillaged the railway station in neighbouring Arnouville. Some 40 police were reported injured.
The police union Alliance offered its condolences to the victims' families, but said it was "unacceptable for a gang of delinquents to use this tragedy as an excuse to set the town on fire."
Police and politicians say the French suburbs remain a "tinderbox" two years after the 2005 riots, which exposed France's failure to integrate its large black and Arab population, the children and grandchildren of immigrants from its African colonies.
Youths riot again in French suburbs as two die
By John Lichfield in Villiers-le-Bel
27 November 2007
Eight police officers were injured last night during a second night of rioting by youths in the far northern suburbs of Paris.
About 160 riot police came under attack in the crime-ridden district of Villiers-le-Bel, 12 miles north of the centre of the French capital. The violence was triggered on Sunday by the deaths of two boys, who were killed when their mini-motorbike collided with a police car.
A similar incident two years ago led to three weeks of rioting in poor, multi-racial suburbs across France. Despite appeals for calm by the dead boys' families, a mob of 200 youths burned a nursery school and other buildings last night. They hurled petrol bombs, stones and fire-crackers and fired airguns at police in running battles on the edge of the town.
Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and paint guns. Eight officers were injured by airgun pellets and two were taken to hospital. About half a dozen wounded officers received treatment in a fire station which was used by police as a base. One officer, his face bloodied, had his arm in a sling.
The town's mayor, Didier Vaillant, who had earlier appealed for calm, said: " It looks like it's going to be a long night."
Less serious incidents were reported in five other towns nearby.
Youths in Villiers-le-Bel alleged that the dead boys – named only as Moushin, 15, and 16-year-old Larami – were deliberately run over by a police car as they rode a miniature scrambling bike along a narrow street on Sunday night. They also claimed that two officers in the car fled without trying to help the dying boys.
"It was no accident. It was deliberate. They saw the bike and accelerated into it," said 15-year-old Seydou, who was standing near the crash scene.
"We all know what happened. It was deliberate," added a young man in his early twenties. "The police treat us like animals each day. Now, they have declared war. Well, they can have a war."
The local public prosecutor, Marie-Thérèse de Givry, dismissed these allegations yesterday and claimed three witnesses saw the bike roar out of a side street and hit the police vehicle by accident. However, she said she had begun an inquiry into alleged "manslaughter and failure to assist people in danger".
Mme. de Givry said the bike was found with its throttle wide open and the police car was travelling at only 50kph (31mph). Evidence at the scene suggested the bike was carried for 20 metres but was hardly damaged. The two boys were thrown against the police car, smashing its windscreen and twisting the bonnet.
The police initially said the motorbike was stolen but later withdrew this claim. Miniature off-road bikes are a craze in the suburbs of Paris. The model ridden by Moushin and Larami was illegal on the roads, and neither was wearing a crash helmet.
Claims of a deliberate police attack may nonetheless be accepted as fact by youths in the rundown housing estates of the capital, where confrontation with the law is a daily fact of life. For months, there have been warnings that simmering tension – even hatred – between police and youths in the poor multi-racial suburbs has not subsided since the riots of October 2005.
Violence flared in Clichy-sous-Bois, in north-east Paris, when two teenage boys died in an electricity sub-station after being chased by police.
Nearby Villiers-le-Bel is another typical suburb of Paris. A village of old stones houses, which could be anywhere in rural France, is surrounded by neat, middle-class bungalows.
These, in turn, are bordered by a sprawling estate of dilapidated, pale yellow and grey tower blocks, built in the early 1970s. The flats are occupied by immigrants of more than 30 nationalities.
Villiers-le-Bel was not affected by the 2005 riots but shares many features of other banlieues – an unemployment rate of over 20 per cent, poor transport links with the city centre and a population of 27,000, 60 per cent of whom are under 25.
Scores of police hurt in Paris as riots spread through suburbs
Matthew Weaver and agencies
Tuesday November 27, 2007
More than 70 French police were injured in a second night of violence in suburbs north of Paris after angry youths threw stones and Molotov cocktails and fired guns at officers.
Five of 77 injured officers were said to be in a critical condition as the worsening riots spread to other suburbs.
One of the officers was shot in the shoulder by a hunting rifle. One journalist was also injured.
The riots were prompted by the death of two teenagers in a motorcycle accident involving a police car on Sunday in Villiers-le-Bel, an area dominated by public housing blocks.
Despite appeals for calm from the crash victims' families and from the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, last night's clashes were more violent than the previous night. The riots also spread to four other northern suburbs, with dozens of cars torched.
Many fear a repeat of the riots of late 2005, which also started in a Parisian suburb after the death of two youths, both accidentally electrocuted while fleeing police.
Last night's violence was even more intense than the three weeks of rioting two years ago, said police official Patrice Ribeiro.
Police are facing "genuine urban guerrillas with conventional weapons and hunting weapons," he told Associated Press. Youths were seen firing buckshot at police and reporters. Angry residents said the police left the scene of Sunday's crash without helping the two teenagers whose moped had collided with their car. Investigators were still trying to piece together what happened.
Police officials said the moped ignored traffic rules and crashed into the police vehicle, and that the bike was unregistered and thus not authorised for use on French roads. Neither of the riders - aged 15 and 16 - was wearing a helmet, and the prosecutor's office said the bike was going at top speed.
Omar Sehhouli, brother of one of the victims, told France Info radio: "This is a failure to assist a person in danger. It is 100% a [police] blunder. They know it, and that's why they did not stay at the scene," he told France Info radio.
Sehhouli also told the news agency AFP that the rioting "was not violence but an expression of rage".
The internal police watchdog opened an inquiry into the deaths.
An alcohol test showed neither officer had been drinking and initial inquiries suggested they did not cause the crash, police said.
The prosecutor, Marie-Therese de Givry, told LCI television that the officers called rescue services to the scene.
The head of the opposition Socialist party, François Hollande, called the latest violence the result of "a social and political crisis" and lamented the "climate of suspicion, of hate, that can exist in many neighbourhoods".
"Promises were made. We want to see the results," Hollande said on France-Inter radio. "How long have we been talking about a 'plan for the suburbs?"'