Youths clash with Paris police

Gangs of youths have lobbed stones at police and set cars ablaze in a northeastern suburb of Paris in a third night of riots sparked by the deaths of two teenagers electrocuted while fleeing police.

    Youths set at least 20 cars ablaze in a third night of riots

    The youths set at least 20 cars ablaze and threw bottles and rocks. Nobody was hurt but 15 people were arrested, police and local officials said on Sunday.


    The unrest was less severe than previous nights in Clichy-Sous-Bois, where the riots broke out on Thursday.


    "There were some cars ablaze and some arrests, but nothing like what we saw in the two previous nights," a police spokesman said, noting the rioting did not last as long.


    On Friday night, youths set rubbish bins and cars ablaze and also fired a shot at police in the suburb, where many of the 28,000 residents are immigrants, mainly from Africa. Sixteen people were lightly injured in Friday's violence.


    Appeal for calm


    Hundreds of residents silently marched through the suburb on Saturday in an appeal for calm and to pay their respects to the two dead teenagers, whom media identified as 15-year-old Banou and 17-year-old Ziad, both believed to be of African origin.


    Hundreds of residents marched in
    silence to appeal for calm

    Prosecutor Francois Molins said the two boys, accompanied by a friend who was injured at the substation, had fled from police investigating the scene of a break-in.


    "They started to run because the other youths were running," he said on Saturday. The three adolescents were "no delinquents", he said, adding: "They thought they were being chased although that was not the case."


    Caution urged


    Police sources said the situation seemed to have calmed in Clichy-Sous-Bois, a neighbourhood of high-rise public housing projects, but they urged caution.


    "It is like a dormant volcano. It could erupt again any time, but in general, these kind of riots don't last longer than 48 hours," said a police source who had been at the scene during the riots on Thursday night.


    "It is like a dormant volcano. It could erupt again any time, but in general, these kind of riots don't last longer than 48 hours"

    Paris police source

    Many of Paris's northeastern suburbs, where immigrants and families from poor backgrounds live in Soviet-style housing estates, have become notorious for violent incidents among gangs of youths.


    In June, an 11-year old boy was killed by a stray bullet in northern La Courneuve.


    The eastern suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine made headlines when a 17-year old girl was set alight by an 18-year old boy whose friends stood nearby in 2002.


    Offensive against crime


    The recent riots came days after Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy launched a new offensive against crime this month, ordering specially trained police to tackle 25 tough neighbourhoods in cities across France.


    Sarkozy's law and order policies
    were criticised by rights groups 

    Sarkozy has also said that all police cars should be equipped with cameras.


    The minister, who has stated his ambition to run for president in 2007, is to receive the families of the victims on Monday.


    The tough-talking Sarkozy, whose law and order policies have been criticised by human rights groups, made his name by cutting headline crime figures during his first term as interior minister from 2002 to 2004.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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