Rioters strike in French district

Dozens of young men rioted in a troubled district in northern France after weeks of tensions, pulling drivers from their cars and stealing the vehicles, and burning a school and a youth centre on Tuesday.

The police in Amiens says at least 16 officers were hurt by the time the riot ended, some by buckshot.

At the height of the confrontation, 150 officers — both local and federal riot police — faced off against the young men throughout the neighborhood. There were no arrests.

“The confrontations were very, very violent,” Amiens Mayor Gilles Dumailly told the French television network BFM. Dumailly said tensions had been building for a number of weeks between police and the impoverished residents, whom he described as “people who are in some difficulty.”

Police in Amiens said the riot involved about a hundred young men and began around 9.00 pm on Monday, ending around 4.00 am after federal reinforcements arrived. It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the unrest, but there had been smaller confrontations with police over the past week, including one involving a weekend traffic stop that some local residents thought was unnecessarily violent.

Until Monday night the violence in Amiens had been on a smaller scale. By the time the latest confrontation was over, two school buildings had been burned, along with a dozen cars and trash cans used as flaming barricades. At least three bystanders were hurt when rioters yanked them from their cars, police said.

Earlier this month, the district in Amiens was among 15 areas declared the most troubled in France, and the government pledged more security and more money. Dumailly said he hoped tensions would improve with a plan to fix up the housing projects and offer more services.

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