Accessibility links

France Hit By Worst Night of Riots So Far


French police say a man beaten last week during rioting in a Paris suburb has died, the first fatality in 11 days of unrest. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is expected to announce a series of measures to restore order, following another night of violence across France.

Once more, police announced a grim tally of a new wave of violence that rocked the country the night before. More than 1,400 vehicles were burned across France - the highest number in 11 nights of unrest.

As in previous nights, schools and other buildings were set on fire around the country, including two churches. Several dozen riot police were also injured, 10 by youths firing birdshot.

One of the wounded policemen told France-Info radio that the youths could be satisfied about the destruction they had wreaked Sunday.

But he said French police had also held their ground. He said some of the rioting youths were as young as 14 and 15 years old.

Police made nearly 400 arrests around the country. But questions are growing about how the government will end nearly two weeks of unrest. Some say the violence amounts to France's worst social crisis in nearly 40 years.

The unrest began after two youths of immigrant origin were electrocuted as they hid from police. Police say they were not pursuing them. Their families dispute this.

Either way, the unrest has laid bare simmering problems in France's low-income, immigrant heavy suburban housing projects that critics say should have been addressed decades ago.

On Sunday, French President Jacques Chirac called for law and order to be restored. And in a visit with police forces in the Paris suburb of Bobigny late Sunday, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy echoed that message.

Minister Sarkozy said Republican order must be restored in all the neighborhoods in France. "It is not a choice," he said, "it is an obligation. Whatever it takes, order must be restored." But he also called for police to do their duty in a respectful manner, which would bring honor to the country's police force.

Mr. Sarkozy himself has sparked outrage for referring to the young rioters as "scum." Members of the leftist opposition have called for his resignation. But a poll published Sunday found 57 percent of French supported him.

Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is expected to announce a series of measures to respond to the ongoing crisis.

XS
SM
MD
LG