Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year
From The
In France

French "youths" torched 425 cars in New Years Eve rioting:

Rowdy revelers in France torched 425 vehicles overnight in scattered New Year's Eve unrest that has become an annual problem in troubled neighborhoods, the national police chief said Sunday. Last year, 333 cars were burned. Police Chief Michel Gaudin also said there were no major clashes this year between youths and police overnight, as had been feared.

Police were especially cautious this time because of the wave three weeks of rioting and car burning that started in late October. A state of emergency imposed during the rioting is still in effect, and 25,000 police were on alert for the holiday.

The burnings have become a barometer of unrest in France. In other incidents, a small fire broke out at a school in Toulouse, in southwest France, and was quickly put out, local authorities said. In Nice on the French Riviera, firefighters were pelted with stones when they responded to an anonymous phone alert, officials said.

In the nearby Var department of southern France, youths also threw rocks at firefighters in a troubled neighborhood of La-Seine-sur-Mer, local authorities said.

Burning cars is common in troubled French neighborhoods — dozens of vehicles are set afire on an average night. The figure has risen to around 300 on New Year's Eve in recent years, according to the Interior Ministry.

About 25,000 police were deployed overnight — ''a few more'' than in past years, Casteran said.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy met with police Saturday afternoon and said that officials had decided to mobilize helicopters because they played a decisive role in stopping the autumn riots.

At the time, helicopters equipped with spotlights and video cameras were used to track bands of marauding youths who sped from attack to attack in cars and on motorbikes.

''The orders I have given are very strict,'' Sarkozy said. ''When there are delinquent acts there will be arrests. Those guilty must be accountable for their acts.''

Will it just get a little worse every year? Are the frogs being brought to a boil?