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French Riot Police Injured During Clashes In Paris


By Lisa Bryant
Paris

French Riot Police Injured During Clashes in Paris Suburb

French police have clashed with youths, outside Paris, in a second night of violence reminiscent of 2005, when rioting in immigrant-heavy suburbs near the French capital spread across the country. Lisa Bryant has more from Paris.

More than 70 riot police officers were injured during the clashes with youths, Monday night, north of Paris, according to various news reports. The youths hurled objects at police, who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas. Authorities say the youths set fire to vehicles, several buildings and garbage cans in six suburbs, including Villiers-le-Bel, where the unrest began.

Jean-Claude Delage, a spokesman for Alliance, one of France's largest police unions, condemned the violence.

In an interview on Radio France, Delage described pillaging and burning by the youths, some of whom he said carried hunting rifles. He says they simply wanted to start a riot. Another official told the Associated Press news agency the violence was more intense than similar rioting in 2005, which was considered the worst in years. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has appealed for calm.

The latest bout of unrest was touched off after a motorcycle carrying two youths collided with a police vehicle in Villiers-le-Bel Sunday, killing the youths. A French state prosecutor has ordered an internal police investigation, but says witnesses have confirmed the police version of events - that the motorcycle slammed into the police car. The youths were not wearing helmets.

The father of one of the victims, 15-year-old Mouchin Sehouli, questions the police version.

Sehouli told France-Info radio one of his sons told him about the death of his son, Mouchin. He went to the local firehouse and found him dead on the floor. He wonders why the authorities had not been the first to let him know.

This week's riots carry all the same explosive ingredients as those that touched off the 2005 violence, at almost the same time in the year: the accidental death of two teenagers, anger at police and simmering unrest in low-income suburbs. The former center-right government vowed to improve conditions for people living in them - many of them ethnic immigrants - but critics say authorities have not done enough.

ENDS

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