Police officers hurt after city riots in northern France

Wed, Aug 15, 2012, 01:00

AMIENS – Youths fired buckshot at police in clashes in the French city of Amiens overnight yesterday, burning cars and a nursery school in a resurgence of urban unrest that President François Hollande said he would do everything to confront.

Mr Hollande dispatched his interior minister Manuel Valls to the northern city, where two nights of violence were apparently sparked by tension over spot police checks on residents.

Officials said 16 police officers were hurt in the disturbances, with some struck by buckshot and others hit by a hail of missiles thrown by about 100 youths who gathered in northern districts of Amiens. One officer was in a serious condition, Socialist city mayor Gilles Demailly said.

Speaking during a visit to southeastern France, Mr Hollande said the state would “mobilise all its resources to combat this violence”. Such incidents have shaken depressed quarters of major French cities at regular intervals.

“Security resources have sadly been declining for too many years,” said Hollande.

“Our priority is security, which means that the next budget will include additional resources for the gendarmerie and the police.”

Reinforcements were being dispatched to the suburbs, parts of which had already classified as a “priority security zone” in need of extra policing. The policy formed part of the Socialists’ election campaign pledge on law and order.

During a night of disturbances, rioters set fire to a number of vehicles, in some cases hauling drivers out of their cars before burning them, Mr Demailly said. No one has been arrested so far.

Mr Valls, a law and order hardliner who annoys some fellow Socialists, was dispatched to Amiens from southern France, where he was on official business with Mr Hollande.

Tensions remain high in many French suburbs, where poor job prospects, racial discrimination, a widespread sense of alienation and perceived hostile policing have periodically touched off violence. – (Reuters)