Thursday, November 03, 2005

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Fresh violence hits Paris suburbs

Fresh violence hits Paris suburbs
Last Updated: Thursday, 3 November 2005, 15:33 GMT

Fresh violence hits Paris suburbs

Riots in Paris
Rioting youths opened fire on police and set dozens of vehicles ablaze in a seventh night of violence in Paris.

In escalating unrest, shots were fired at police and firefighters, while gangs besieged a police station, set fire to a car showroom and threw petrol bombs.

At least 15 people were arrested and nine injured across north-east Paris.

France's government is facing mounting criticism of its handling of the riots, triggered by the deaths last week of two teenagers of African origin.

Bouna Traore, aged 15 and Zyed Benna, 17, were electrocuted at an electricity sub-station. Local people say they were fleeing police during a disturbance, a claim the authorities deny.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy met with the boys' families on Thursday, as a criminal investigation and an internal police inquiry into their deaths were opened.

Map of riot areas

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Mr Sarkozy cancelled overseas trips to hold a crisis meeting in the face of the growing dissatisfaction with the government's failure to quell the violence.

Both men are likely rivals for the presidency in 2007, and their different approaches to the rioting has split the cabinet.

Mr Sarkozy has caused controversy by labelling the rioters as 'scum' and saying many of the suburbs need 'industrial cleaning', but Mr de Villepin has preached a more conciliatory message, urging ministers not to 'stigmatise' vast areas.


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