An attack on police at a housing estate to the south of Paris has been condemned as 'unspeakable' by the French President. Authorities have promised more measures against criminality.
Two police officers were attacked with Molotov cocktails in their vehicles on La Grande Borne housing estate in Viry-Châtillon south of Paris on Saturday afternoon. Four police officers were injured with severe burns to their arms and hands in the attack by up to 40 people.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said two officers "were violently attacked with incendiary devices while they were on a surveillance mission in the Grande Borne high security zone." Security cameras have been installed and surveillance has been stepped up in recent months to contain widespread illegal drug dealing in the area. There had been previous attempts to destroy the cameras in recent weeks.
"The team in the police car were responsible for monitoring a video camera near the traffic lights at Viry-Châtillon," police told Le Parisien newspaper. "Dozens of people attacked them with Molotov cocktails." The two police cars were then set on fire
Backup was sent to the scene near traffic lights where a number of violent robberies have taken place. "Their colleagues who came to back them up were also targeted," Valls said. He described the attack as "extremely serious and very cowardly." The wounded officers were taken to hospitals in Paris.
Valls said the culprits would be "relentlessly pursued and brought to justice. At a time when the security forces are bravely responding to the (terrorist) threats facing our country, such intolerable acts call for exemplary sanctions," he said.
During the evening police patrols armed with tear gas and shields were sent into the area. "We believe that it was organized and premeditated," Jean-Marc Falcone, director of the national police said of the attack. He declared he was "shocked."
President Hollande said the attack was "unspeakable and intolerable because it endangered the lives of officers whose job was to protect the population."
"Everything will be done to find the perpetrators of this attack and bring them to justice so they receive a sentence in-keeping with the severity of their crime," Hollande added.
Local mayor Jean-Marie Vilain said that as a result of Saturday's incident, security measures on the housing estate would be increased. "The next step will be to go inside Grande Borne to put an end to all the drug dealing, because that is really what the cameras interfere with," he said.
jm/lw (AFP, Reuters)