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November 26, 2007
Rioting in Paris
Rioting has broken out in Paris as a result of a traffic accident involving two Muslim youths whose moped struck a police cruiser, killing the boys:
Molotov cocktails were thrown, and cars and plastic bins set on fire following the tragedy in Tolinette, a notoriously crime-ridden district of Villiers-le-Bel, some 20 miles north of the centre of the French capital. Police insist they were not chasing the boys and that the incident was an accident.
One police station was set alight and another, in a neighbouring suburb, was ransacked after youths threw cocktails, and set bins alight and upturned cars.
Officials said seven police and one firefighter had were injured and there were fears the violence, which spread to the neighbouring town of Arnouville-les-Gonesse, could also take hold in other poor, suburban enclaves. The boys who died were said by locals to be "aged between 12 and 13".
The violence was an echo of the 2005 riots where immigrants were set off by the electrocution deaths of two young men who were on the run from police. As was the case then, French police have once again backed off and fled the areas of unrest resulting in the torching of one at least one of their stations.
The rioters, meanwhile, are "enraged:"
Omar Sehhouli, brother of one of the victims, accused police of ramming the motorbike and of failing to assist the injured teens. The rioters in 2005 ended up torching nearly 9,000 vehicles in an orgy of destruction that lasted months. Let's hope the police response to this outbreak of rioting is more assertive than what was widely seen as a coddling of the thugs last time.
"This is a failure to assist a person in danger... it is 100-percent a (police) blunder. They know it, and that's why they did not stay at the scene," he told France Info radio.
"I know they will say they left because they were afraid of clashes or of being assaulted... but up until now we have had no apology from the police chief."