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Riots in Grenoble

July 17, 2010

Rioters torched cars and shot at police on the outskirts of the French Alpine city Grenoble after police shot dead a suspected robber.

Brice Hortefeux behind a torched car
Hortefeux, second right, promised security in VilleneuveImage: AP

Rioters torched cars, looted shops and shot at police in the French Alpine city of Grenoble Saturday after police shot dead a man who allegedly held up a nearby casino the night before.

The riots began around midnight in the Villeneuve suburb of Grenoble, after a memorial to 27-year-old Karim Boudouda, the alleged robber, who was a Villeneuve resident.

The violence flared when police tried to intervene in the attack of a streetcar held up by brushfire, police spokeswoman Brigette Julien told the AFP news agency. A group of about 30 youths had attacked the tram with baseball bats and iron bars, forcing out passengers.

After police arrived, the youths began burning cars, setting between 50 and 60 vehicles ablaze. Gunfire ensued, with police returning fire four times.

No one was injured in the riots, according to police, who arrested two men aged 18 and 20 for burning cars and three others for attempting to loot shops.

"No future for hoodlums"

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux arrived later on Saturday, vowing to restore order to the Villeneuve neighborhood.

"I've asked for the prefect to use all means to secure the neighborhood," he said. "There is a simple and clear reality in this country: there's no future for hoodlums and delinquents because in the end the public authority always wins."

Boudouda's accomplice escaped the scene of the casino robbery after an hour-long helicopter chase. Police reportedly found a getaway vehicle with between 20,000 and 40,000 euros ($25,000-$50,000).

The robbery at the casino in Uriage-les-Bains, some 15 kilometers from Grenoble, is the third casino robbery in the region so far this year.

Ongoing violence

A riot-control squad meets protestors in Paris in 2006
Civil unrests swept French suburbs in 2005, as seen here in ParisImage: picture-alliance/ dpa/dpaweb

According to police union SGP, violence in Grenoble has been on the rise for months. Police unions have demanded Hortefeux send reinforcements to the Grenoble region.

Violence in French banlieues has been a regular occurrence since the early 1990s, culminating in a series of youth riots that rocked the French nation in 2005.

Author: David Levitz (AFP/AP/Reuters)

Editor: Sean Sinico