Monday, October 30, 2006

New from the French (bus attack) Front.

By the way, just a short post to say that all people talk about in France is the attack of a bus in a deprived suburb of Marseille that left a woman of 26 severely burnt over the week-end.

A group of teenagers reportedly forced open the doors of the bus vehicle and threw a flammable liquid inside before fleeing. A 26-year-old French woman was unable to escape and suffered burns to 70% of her body. (BBC)

As a result:

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin vowed on Monday to stiffen punishments for vandals.

Clearly, there is the fear that the country may risk a new wave of unrest as the Marseille attack followed the torching of several buses and cars around Paris in recent weeks and as this is the anniversary of last year’s riots.

But the situation is obviously very different from last year. There has been no major unrest and those attacks have been committed by small groups of youths who use the date of “anniversary” as an opportunity to commit crimes. The week-end was no worse than any others, except for this particular incident.

At the same time, a serious incident with the police could also trigger more wide-spread violence as the tension between the police and those youths is high. After all, last year's riots were sparked by the deaths of two teenagers in one of those suburbs during a chase with the police.

Incidents like this one do not help:

The IGS police watchdog has also launched a probe into how a 16 year-old was injured when police fired a 'flash-ball' gun, which uses rubber bullets, during a clash with youths on Saturday night in the same Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois where the riots began last year, a police source said. (Reuters)

Interior Minister Nicoles Sarkozy, who is also the favorite conservative candidate for next year presidential election is taking some heat

Sarkozy, who is loved and loathed in equal measure for his tough talk on law and order, has faced criticism from opposition leftists for the continued violence in France's rundown suburbs. (Reuters)

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