Restive youths in a Paris suburb torched a tourist bus and nearly a half-dozen cars and hurled objects at police early Tuesday, a night after fullblown unrest prompted by the death of a teen fleeing police.
The local prefecture, the administrative center for the region,
said the situation was under control despite the scattered
An Associated Press Television News crew saw at least five
torched cars and a burned-out tourist bus near a housing project.
Groups of youths set street fires, sometimes fueling them with
garbage cans or a mattress in one case and hurled stones and other
objects at police.
Authorities had sent teams of riot police into the Bagnolet
suburb just east of Paris after a night of violence following the
Sunday night death of an 18-year-old pizza deliverer fleeing police
on his motorcycle.
Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux had called for calm, signaling
fears that unrest by angry suburban youth could worsen. Hortefeux
ordered an internal police investigation into the death.
A helicopter beamed a spotlight into the area early Tuesday as
bands of youth set fires and taunted police in a cat-and-mouse game
typical of suburban unrest in France. The prefecture said some
people were detained but provided no number.
A night earlier, some 40 people hurled Molotov cocktails at
police and firefighters, torched dozens of cars and one person
fired a handgun during a rampage hours after the death of the young
About 40 vans of riot police were seen parked outside the
housing project Monday night.
Some witnesses claimed a police car hit the young motorcyclist
after he tried to flee a document check outside the project. "I
saw it with my own eyes .... He didn't stop (and) they hit him,"
Alexandre Matthias told iTele TV station.
However, Philibert Demory, deputy prosecutor of Bobigny, which
handles the region, said that "as it stands so far there is no
element to show contact" between the two vehicles. He asked
witnesses to come forward.
The teenager lost control of his motorcycle and hit a metal
barrier; he then died en route to the hospital, police said.
Youths hurled Molotov cocktails and projectiles at police and
emergency workers on the scene, and one person fired a handgun at
police, Hortefeux's office said in a statement.
The rioters set fire to 29 cars and smashed windows of a high
school and store, the statement said. One person was detained and
order was restored after police reinforcements arrived.
Flowers and a note were left at the metal barrier to mark the
young man's death.
Hortefeux insisted that "all light will be shed" on the cause
of the young man's death with an internal investigation.
"I want it (the results) to be made public as quickly as
possible," Hortefeux said Monday evening. The inquiry will be
"serious, deep, honest," he promised.
Hortefeux announced a meeting Aug. 31 with the top government
officials in charge of urban and youth policies and neighborhood
associations to try to "establish a peaceful dialogue" in
The scenario - the death of a youth with police directly or
indirectly involved - mirrors other incidents that have triggered
unrest. Tensions between young people and police have long simmered
in housing projects in France's suburbs, feeding on poverty,
unemployment and anger over discrimination against minorities.
The suburbs erupted in 2005 in riots, largely by young Arab and
black men of immigrant backgrounds, after two teens were
electrocuted in a power substation while hiding from police. The
riots spread nationwide.
Violence broke out in November 2007 in Villiers-le-Bel, north of
Paris, after two teenage boys were killed in a motorbike crash with
a police car. Police and local officials said it was an accident,
but many residents were unconvinced.
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.