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Riots Spread Across France for 10th Straight Night


For the 10th night in a row, violence swept across France Saturday as roving gangs of youths set fire to vehicles and buildings.

The unrest that began more than a week ago in the working-class suburbs of Paris hit the French capital. Saturday night, at least 22 cars were set afire, including several on Rue Beranger, in northern Paris.

By daylight, all was calm on Rue Beranger. Just a few people were out enjoying the November sunshine, including Christian Roze, getting out of his car with his two children.

Mr. Roze said he was unaware of the arson attacks on several cars on his street the night before. He has lived on Rue Beranger for 13 years. He thinks the unrest is because France's Liberation newspaper has its office in the neighborhood, and the attackers wanted attention.

But just around the corner, Ahmed Sohamed watched photographers snap pictures of a burned building front - another casualty of the Saturday night rampages.

Mr. Sohamed, who is from Bangladesh, said he saw the building in flames last night, and watched the police and firemen arrive to extinguish them. Mr. Sohamed has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years. Usually it is calm here, he said. Last night's attack has made him scared.

Police reported that more than 800 vehicles were torched across the country Saturday, along with schools, shops and other buildings.

The violence erupted more than a week ago, after the accidental death by electrocution of two youths of African origin. The youngsters thought they were being chased by police, but police deny having done so.

Those perpetrating the unrest are mostly youngsters with immigrant backgrounds who live in France's low-income housing projects. The unrest spreading across the country has sparked debate about France's perceived failure to integrate its ethnic-immigrant community.

A law student from Cameroon who lives in the Rue Beranger area, John Ngalame, says he is concerned about the government's inability to calm the situation and to address income and racial inequalities in the country.

"It is definitely a serious problems and politicians do not really cater to this problem until there is an election. Until something major comes up," he said. "And in as much as I do not agree with rioting an violence to resolve issues, I think these problems need to be addressed more."

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is expected to announce a series of measures in the coming days to improve life in France's immigrant-heavy housing projects and give its angry youths better opportunities.

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