En bagatell av en trafikk-kontroll utløste alvorlige opptøyer i den franske byen Amiens natt til tirsdag. 16 politifolk ble alvorlig skadet, mange biler brent og en barneskole ødelagt.
Utbruddet er ubehagelig for sosialistenes nyvalgte president, Francois Hollande.
Several police officers were shot during ‘extremely violent’ riots as hundreds of youths went on the rampage in northern France overnight.
At least 16 officers were seriously injured during the disturbances on council estates in the city of Amiens, in the Somme region.
It was the first serious urban rioting to break out in France since a new Socialist government was elected earlier this year.
Gilles Demailly, the mayor of Amiens, said: ‘This was an extremely violent night – the kind we have not seen for years.’
He said that building and cars were burned, Molotov cocktails were thrown and buckshot fired at the police.
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‘Officers were very seriously injured and three public buildings all but destroyed. A nursery has been ransacked and partly burned, as has a sports centre.’
Trouble first broke out in the Fasset district of Amiens when a driver was stopped by police for a routine check.
Youths began to taunt the officers involved, and then started throwing missiles at them, which led to the police using tear gas and other riot-control methods.
A crowd that had gathered to mourn a young man of 20, who died in a motorcycle accident last Thursday, increased the numbers.
‘The situation got out of control and spread to nearby streets,’ said a police spokesman. ‘Soon hundreds of rioters were involved. They were setting fire to bins and to cars and attacking anybody who tried to stop them.
‘The rioting started soon after 11pm and lasted until well into the early hours of Tuesday.’
Thierry Mariani, a former minister in the conservative UMP party in the city, called for a ‘tough response’ from the government.
Mr Mariani is a close political ally of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who was renowned for his tough approach to law and order.