World News

Police clashes and buildings torched in Paris suburb

PARIS (Reuters) - Dozens of youths clashed with police and set fire to buildings in a Paris suburb on Sunday after two teenagers were killed in a crash with a police car.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

The pair were riding on a stolen motorcycle when the accident happened on Sunday in the town of Villiers-le-Bel, north of Paris, a police union source said.

France’s worst urban unrest in 40 years broke out in the northeastern Paris suburb of Clichy-Sous-Bois in November 2005, after two teenagers died electrocuted in an electricity sub-station after apparently fleeing police.

The circumstances in this case, however, were different.

“It was not a chase but apparently a traffic accident,” a police source said.

The town’s police station caught fire and that of the neighbouring town, Arnouville-les-Gonesse, was ransacked, the local authority said.

A Villiers garage was set ablaze and fires were put out before they could spread in a neighbouring garage and a petrol station in the same town.

“The situation is tense tonight. We do not know how it will evolve during the night,” the mayor’s chief of staff, Nicolas Carrier, told Reuters.

Large numbers of police were sent to the town from neighbouring departments and Paris.

“We made (police) immediately available for a dramatic situation in which two young people died and there has been damage and thefts,” a local authority official said.

“There are small groups of vandals who have started to loot shops,” the official said, adding that a young person had been arrested.

The local authority said seven policemen and a fireman were injured. A police officer who went to the scene was attacked by youths who had gathered there.

Several rubbish bins were torched and the burned out wreckage of a car was visible on French television footage.

Reporting by Laure Bretton; writing by Francois Murphy