Tue, Oct 24, 2006 - Page 6 News List

French youths burn bus

AP , PARIS

A resident of Clichy-Sous-Bois walks past photos by a French photographer known only as JR in the Paris suburb on Friday. A year ago, when riots broke out in France's troubled suburban housing projects, the world's media broadcast countless photos of hooded youths setting fire to cars. JR thought about those images, the stereotypes they reinforced and how he could use photography to deliver a different message.

PHOTO: AP

A band of youths, some wearing masks, forced passengers out of a bus in a southern Paris suburb in broad daylight, set it afire and then stoned firefighters who came to the rescue, a police official said.

Police cordoned off the neighborhood in Grigny in the Essonne region of Paris after the bus attack on Sunday, which came five days before France marks the one-year anniversary of the start of three weeks of fiery riots by poor suburban youths.

District Police Chief Jean-Francois Papineau called Sunday's bus attack "deliberate."

He said a vehicle was set afire at about 2pm and used as a road block that forced the bus to stop.

Two youths then entered the back of the bus in order to clear out passengers before dousing it with gasoline and setting it ablaze.

The blaze, which left the bus a tangled carcass of metal, spread to four parked cars, Papineau told LCI television.

When firefighters arrived, the youths, some masked, began stoning them, he said. No one was injured, however.

Two people were arrested, one of them a 13-year-old, LCI said.

The local prefecture said that nearly 30 youths were involved in the incident.

LCI reported that about 50 youths, some carrying iron bars, were involved.

Meanwhile, France's minister for social cohesion, Jean-Louis Borloo, called on citizens to act responsibly because "tensions are raw just as we're in the process of resolving the difficulties."

The daylight bus-burning evoked memories of the riots last year. It followed nearly a half-dozen incidents in recent weeks in which suburban youths have attacked police officers, in some cases by using planned ambushes.

Police secured the Grande Borne neighborhood of Grigny, the local government said, adding that order was quickly restored.

On Saturday, five people were placed under investigation for attempted murder in relation to an Oct. 13 ambush in the town of Epinay-sur-Seine, north of Paris, in which police were first lured to a housing project and then attacked by about 30 youths.

One officer hit by a rock in that attack required 30 stitches to his face.

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