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Riots Spread to Second-Largest French City

November 13, 2005|From Times Wire Services

PARIS — Dozens of youths threw stones and trash cans at police and attacked sidewalk shops Saturday night in a main square of Lyon, and officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd in France's second-largest city.

The clashes at Lyon's historic Place Bellecour came just hours after authorities announced a weekend curfew in the city, barring youths younger than 18 from being outside without adult supervision from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

It was the first time in 17 days of unrest that youths clashed with police in a major city. Most of the violence in France -- the worst civil unrest in the country in nearly 40 years -- has occurred in poor suburban neighborhoods and towns populated by large numbers of immigrants and their French-born children. The rioters have said the nightly attacks are attempts to expose the inequities and pervasive discrimination in French society.

In other violence Saturday night, rioters crashed cars into a retirement home and a school in the southern city of Carpentras before setting the vehicles on fire, the national police said.

In Paris, thousands of police guarded the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysees and train stations in response to text messages and Internet postings that called for "violent actions" in the capital. Authorities banned public gatherings considered risky in an effort to keep the unrest from spreading into the capital.

No trouble was reported in Paris several hours after nightfall.

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