Dozens of Youths Attack Police Patrol, Set Fire to Community Center in Northeast France

AP, October 5, 2007

Dozens of hooded youths battered two police vehicles with metal bars, set fire to more than a dozen parked cars and torched a community center in northeast France, officials said Friday.

The rampage in a tough neighborhood in Saint-Dizier, about 120 miles east of Paris, revived memories of a wave of car burnings, vandalism and clashes with police in 2005 fanned by feelings of alienation among French youths of Arab and African origin.

Authorities were not sure what sparked the violence by 30-40 youths late Thursday. The trouble began when firefighters escorted by police entered the Vert-Bois neighborhood in response to a fire alarm.

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Riot police were called in and ordered to stay in Saint-Dizier through the weekend. Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie condemned the violence in a visit to the town.

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