Sun, Oct 29, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Scattered violence marks anniversary of France unrest

AGENCIES , PARIS AND CLICHY-SOUS-BOIS, FRANCE

Youths torched two buses and police arrested 25 people in French suburbs on the first anniversary of violent riots that spread through France but officials said yesterday it was a relatively quiet night.

Two men boarded a bus in the Seine-Saint-Denis area north of Paris on Friday evening, ordering about 15 passengers and the drivers off before setting it alight.

Another bus was set ablaze in another part of the suburb, police said.

The two attackers, wearing hoods, burned two buses on Friday night on the anniversary of the start of last year's suburban unrest.

The two buses were attacked separately in Le Blanc-Mesnil, north of Paris.

The passengers and drivers of both buses were able to escape unharmed, said the Paris-area transportation authority, RATP.

In one of the attacks, assailants broke the bus' windows and threw firebombs into the vehicle.

A spokeswoman for the transportation authority said that she was unsure if the bombs were thrown before or after the passengers had left the bus.

`QUIET NIGHT'

"Few incidents have been recorded during the night of Oct. 27 and 28" the Interior Ministry said in a statement. "[It was] a relatively quiet night."

Around 4,000 extra police officers were deployed on Friday night, the ministry said, adding that "This allowed [them] to intervene rapidly where certain acts were being committed."

Six police officers were slightly injured, it said.

In southern Toulouse, the town of Meaux east of Paris and in Clichy-Sous-Bois, the northeastern Paris suburb where last year's riots started, youths attacked some police officers and set cars ablaze, the ministry said.

After several attacks on police in poor suburbs in past weeks, police had said the violence could spiral out of control as the anniversary of last year's riots approached.

But the fears appeared unfounded yesterday.

"It's lively but it's not the riots of last year," one police source said during the night.

REMEMBERING

During the day on Friday, several hundred people in this poor Parisian suburb participated in a silent march in memory of two teenagers whose accidental deaths last year triggered three weeks of unrest that shook the country.

In speeches after the march, officials and family members of the teenagers called for calm.

The marchers, many of them youths wearing white T-shirts bearing the words "Dead for Nothing," paused by the power substation where the teenagers died.

The unrest last year, during which thousands of cars were set ablaze and businesses were damaged, shed light on the plight of the country's underprivileged populations, mainly Arabs and black Africans and their French-born children, who feel disenfranchised.

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