Policemen were injured, hundreds of cars were burned and buildings torched Sunday, at the start of a 10th-straight night of violence in France. French President Jacques Chirac has promised trials and punishment for the perpetrators.
Speaking after meeting with members of his cabinet Sunday, President Chirac said restoring security and public order would be the government's top priority after 10 days of violence. The unrest began after the accidental electrocution of two youths of African origin in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. The two apparently thought they were fleeing police.
In recent days, nightly rampages by youths of largely ethnic-immigrant origin have spread beyond low-income suburban housing projects around Paris to other parts of France. Many analysts say decades of poverty, misery and alienation experienced by those living in these gritty public housing blocks is finally boiling over.
Sunday afternoon, a bus was set afire in Saint-Etienne, in the south, and at least 10 police were injured, two seriously, in Grigny in the Essonne region south of the capital.
The violence spread from the suburbs of Paris to the city Saturday night. But in interviews around Paris, Sunday, most people did not appear afraid.
One young man, who only gave his first name, Olivier, said he didn't really care about the violence, so long as the rioters didn't burn his car. Olivier said the unrest wasn't about integration of foreigners and ethnic immigrants. Those who are rioting are French, he says. They just want to heat things up.
Parisian Magdalene de Jorojy agreed that the unrest wasn't about integration. "The real problem, Ms. Jorojy said, was poverty and misery that prevail in the French housing projects and must be addressed.
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is expected to announce measures aimed to improve life in low-income suburban housing projects as early as Monday.