French police fight running battles with youths in Paris suburb

French police fought running battles Saturday night in a poor suburb northwest of Paris with groups of young men who burnt a circus school and wounded two officers, the authorities said Sunday.

French police fight running battles with youths in Paris suburb
Image: Pierre RATEAU / AFPTV / AFP

The trouble, which is said to be related to the pending demolition of a building block in the disadvantaged neighbourhood of Noe, started with youngsters throwing Molotov cocktails in the evening, according to a police source.

When officers arrived, they were attacked with projectiles and targeted with fireworks.

At the height of the confrontation, police were facing off with a group of about 30 men, said the source.

Two police members sustained light injuries. In the foray, the troublemakers burnt a circus tent, which its operator said had cost about 800,000 euros ($894,000) and where children from deprived backgrounds were being trained in the circus arts. Two suspects were arrested.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner described the acts on Twitter as “cowardly and foolish”, and said he was confident the police would identify and catch those who got away.

Mayor Catherine Arenou said the suburb had been caught for days in the grip of criminal acts by youngsters in the Noe neighbourhood who keep smashing the street lights.

The mayor said a youth information centre in the neighbourhood was also targeted on Saturday night, with petrol found inside and traces of an attempted fire.

A police source said the violence had been sparked by the planned demolition of an apartment building which “threatens the underground economy” run by criminal gangs in the neighbourhood.

The planned demolition is part of an urban reconstruction programme, according to the mayor.

In April last year, a nursery school in the Noe neighbourhood was set ablaze, prompting local authorities to raise concerns about the plight of Paris’ needier suburbs.

A report in June said rising property prices had widened the gap between rich and poor in the Paris region, where the number of people living in poverty has increased.

The Ile de France, with Paris at its centre, accounts for 30 percent of the national economy and is also home to the biggest immigrant population.

Average income fell while unemployment and the foreign-born population grew in 44 areas, mostly far-flung suburbs encircling the French capital, from 2001 to 2015.

The highly qualified and managerial classes mainly occupy central Paris and its wealthy western suburbs.

Member comments

  1. So we have data on poverty, crime rate, demographics and …so what is the plan? As a species, humans seem incapable or unwilling to solve basic social problems. We need strong leadership and informed decision-making to reduce poverty and crime. Obviously a generous social welfare safety net, plenty of police and universal access to a first world educational system are not the answers. What is? Hint: Personally I find population density is a factor. People from overpopulated countries move to a less populated country where high density areas are created and those nasty social density problems start all over again. One need only look to the animal kingdom for a similar model .

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Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”