Paris: Riots

Angry youths set fire to buildings, shops and a police station after two teenagers died Sunday in a crash with a police car at a Paris suburb, as 21 policemen and firefighters were injured in the unrest, police said.

A police station in the town of Villiers-le-Bel was set on fire and another one in neighbouring Arnouville was wrecked after the pair -- aged 15 and 16 -- were killed in the accident.

Police said there were reports of "small groups attacking shops, passers-by and car drivers" to rob them. One suspect carrying jewellery from a looted store at Villiers-le-Bel was detained.

Rioters torched two garages, a petrol pump and two shops, pillaged the railway station at Arnouville and set fire to at least 21 cars. Police reported at least seven arrests.

Four riot police officers and three other police officers were wounded in clashes which erupted after 6:00 pm accident, according to first reports.

Police earlier said that another officer who tried to calm the situation suffered injuries to his face.

Early Monday, some 100 youths thronged the accident site as police forensic experts examined the area.

"The truth should emerge or we will take the law in our own hands," some of them warned the police.

Omar Sehhouli, the brother of one of the victims, told AFP he wanted the police officers "responsible" for the accident to be brought to justice.

He said the rioting "was not violence but an expression of rage."

Locals from the town meanwhile said late Sunday that the rampaging youths had burnt cars to prevent police from entering the area.

"The police cannot go in. Every time they try to do so, the youths charge with whatever they can lay their hands on," a resident said.

Relations between youths and police are traditionally tense in some Paris-area suburbs, some of which are dominated by immigrants.

The 2005 electrocution deaths of two immigrant youths allegedly fleeing police in the suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois sparked two months of rioting that spread to other parts of France in the worst such unrest in decades.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a former interior minister, is reviled in the immigrant-heavy neighbourhoods for having campaigned on a pledge to launch a Marshall Plan for the suburbs after the 2005 riots showed up France's failure to integrate immigrants.

The French-born descendants of African and Arab immigrants complain of being treated like outcasts in their country, herded into grimy high-rise complexes on the fringes of cities.

Source: Expatica (English)

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