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French Riots Rage for 9th Night

Mayors meet to urge calm, although one says an 'urban insurrection' has taken hold. More cars and buildings are set ablaze.

November 05, 2005|From Associated Press

AUBERVILLIERS, France — Marauding youths set fire to cars and warehouses and pelted rescuers with rocks Friday as the worst rioting in a decade continued for a ninth night in Paris and other French cities. The U.S. warned Americans against taking trains to Charles de Gaulle airport through strife-torn areas.

Rioters burned more than 500 vehicles Friday in cities including Paris and Suresnes, just to the west of the capital. In Meaux, east of Paris, officials said youths stoned rescuers aiding someone who had fallen ill.

Meanwhile, warehouses in Suresnes and Aubervilliers, on the northern edge of Paris, were set ablaze. Officials said fires also raged in the cities of Lille, Toulouse and Rouen.

About 30 mayors from the Seine-Saint-Denis region, where the unrest started, met Friday to put out a call for calm. Claude Pernes, mayor of Rosny-sous-Bois, denounced what he called the "veritable guerrilla situation, urban insurrection" that has taken hold.

A national police spokesman, Patrick Hamon, said there appeared to be no coordination among gangs in different areas. But he said youths were communicating by cellphone text messages or e-mail -- arranging meetings and warning each other about police operations.

The violence started Oct. 27 after the accidental electrocution of two teenagers who believed police were chasing them in Seine-Saint-Denis, which is dominated by low-income housing projects.

Since then, the rioting has swelled into a broader challenge to the French state and its security forces. In one incident Wednesday, youths attacked a bus in Sevran. As passengers fled, a woman on crutches was splashed with gasoline and set afire, police said. She was hospitalized with severe burns.

The violence has exposed discontent in poor neighborhoods where African and Muslim immigrants and their French-born children say they are trapped by unemployment, racial discrimination and poor education.

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