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Families of Youths Whose Deaths Sparked Riots to Sue France

The French government faces legal action for the deaths of two African youths that sparked nationwide rioting six months ago. Reports are mixed over whether conditions have improved in France's immigrant-heavy suburbs where the violence took place.

In an interview on France-Info radio, lawyer Jean-Pierre Mignard said he will take legal action against the government on behalf of families of the two youths, who were accidentally electrocuted in October as they fled from police.

Mignard says he wants France's Interior and Prime Minister to admit French police acted excessively against the youths, who were apparently fleeing security forces in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. He also wants the government to compensate the families.

The deaths of the two Africans touched off three weeks of rioting and arson attacks that spread across France. The violence was largely staged by ethnic-immigrant youths living in grim, suburban housing projects like Clichy - where crime and unemployment rates are far higher than the national average.

The country's center-right government promised to push through a series of measures designed to improve educational and employment opportunities in these suburbs. And today, France's deputy minister of employment, Gerard Larcher, says more than 47,000 disadvantaged youths have found a job or an apprenticeship since December.

But news reports from the suburbs suggest many young people believe little has changed in their lives. And some teachers and social workers working in low-income neighborhoods say it may not take much for the violence to flare up again.