Vehicles torched in Belgium, Germany

Youths have set fire to vehicles in several cities in Belgium and Germany in what officials say appear to be an imitation of violence in France.

    Up to nine vehicles were set ablaze in Germany

    In Belgium, a car, a bus and a truck went up in flames in the port city of Antwerp, while a car was set ablaze in Ghent on Tuesday night, the third night of unrest.

    Another car was torched in Lokeren, a town between Ghent and Antwerp.

    "It's quite clearly a copycat case involving several youngsters relating to the events in Paris," Ghent police commissioner Steven De Smet told VRT radio.

    Several vehicles were damaged by Molotov cocktails in Brussels. "The cabin (of a van) was already on fire when we arrived at the scene," Guy Cloetens of the city's fire department told VRT television.  

    Isolated cases

    Public officials have stressed the fires were isolated cases and said there were no riots.

    Belgium has a large immigrant
    population

    The officials have sought to forestall any spillover of the French violence by stepping up police patrols and increasing dialogue with immigrant community leaders.

    Like France, Belgium has a large immigrant population, many of Moroccan origin, with high unemployment among the young.

    But the decentralised country has a more multicultural method of integration than France, respecting ethnic sensitivities.

    Germany

    In the German capital, nine cars have been set alight since the weekend.

    While in the western city of Cologne, two cars were seriously damaged and another two slightly damaged by fire overnight, police spokesman Wolfgang Baldes said.

    Witnesses saw six to seven youths running away from the scene, he said.

    Police spokesman Frank Thiele said it was possible that a single individual was responsible, and said investigators had found no direct link to the violence in France.

    "Our situation is nothing like that in Paris," Thiele said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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