French Riots Anniversary Passes With Minor Skirmishes | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 28.10.2006
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French Riots Anniversary Passes With Minor Skirmishes

Six policemen suffered minor injuries and two buses were torched overnight Friday, but police said the first anniversary of the start of France's most serious riots in decades passed without major incident.


A public transport bus was torched Le Blanc-Mesnil, north of Paris

Four thousand extra police were drafted into Paris suburbs with high immigration populations and 47 people were arrested, 34 of them in areas around the capital.

Masked youths in the northeastern Paris suburb of Blanc-Mesnil attacked the buses, forcing the passengers to get off before setting fire to the vehicles.

Police confronted youths in Clichy-sous-Bois, the poor northeastern Paris suburb where the riots erupted last October and spread to other areas of the country.

"It was a relatively calm night," a police spokesman said. The interior ministry said there had been "few incidents."

A total of 277 vehicles were set on fire across the country, according to Le Monde newspaper, but the authorities refused to confirm the figure.

That figure was three times higher than the number of vehicles torched on a normal day in France.

Police said police and youths had also clashed in the northeastern city of Reims and in Toulouse in the southwest.

Little has changed since then, some say

Last year's riots were sparked by the deaths in Clichy-sous-Bois of Zyed Benna, 17, and Bouna Traore, 15, both from families of African descent. They were electrocuted as they hid in an electricity sub-station after fleeing from police.

Riots broke out in Clichy-sous-Bois that night, quickly spreading to dozens of suburbs in the Paris region and other French cities. Night after night for three weeks, mainly North African youths clashed with police, torching more than 10,000 cars and firebombing 300 buildings in around 275 towns, until order was officially restored on Nov. 17.

Jahrestag Unruhen in Frankreich Vororte Demonstration

Over 1,000 people took part in a memorial march in Clichy-sous-Bois on Friday

On Friday, more than 1,000 people made a silent march past the spot where the two teenagers died.

The mayor of Clichy, Claude Dilain, told the crowd: "Once again, France and the world are watching us. We need the calm, dignity and courage that are visible here to prevail. Let us show them who we really are."

But police and mayors have warned that the conditions that led to the riots remain firmly in place in poor out-of-town neighborhoods plagued by unemployment of 30 to 40 percent.

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