UPDATED: Rioters ‘were out to kill us’, says wounded French officer
PARIS – "It felt like they were out to kill us. We knew there were weapons in the suburbs, but never turned against us like that," one of the police officers shot during youth riots near Paris told AFP Wednesday.
"We were attacked from all sides" by youths armed with hunting rifles."
"The kids were shooting at us at close range, loading and reloading their weapons. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like in a movie. They were picking us off from 10 or 15 metres away."
Riots have broken out for a third night in the poor French suburbs as violence is spreading despite the heavy police presence.
Youths rampaged for a third night in the tough suburbs north of
Paris and violence spread to a southern city late yesterday as police
struggled to contain rioters who have burned cars and buildings and —
in an ominous turn — shot at officers.
A senior police union official warned that
"urban guerrillas" had joined the unrest, saying the violence was worse
than during three weeks of rioting that raged around French cities in
2005, when firearms were rarely used. More here
Sophie, our intrepid correspondent in France, stayed up late into the night on the third straight night of Muslim rioting to file this report for us. She signed off, "Many kisses
I do hope that France will survive."
Insurrection in France Sophie Fernandez Debellemanière
More than one hundred policemen got wounded in the riots that began on Friday night in Villiers-le-Bel. 99 percent were gunshot, according to a doctor from a hospital in Val-d’Oise. Thus, a police union called “Synergie” stated that today’s situation is even worse than the one during the 2005 riots. The police inspector who was beaten in the face with an iron bar, and beaten again while lying down, got his lung perforated.
The police do not seem to be allowed to respond to violence: none of the rioters was wounded, as reported chief of the medical emergency team working in Villiers-le-Bel Patrick Pelloux.
Riots are now spreading all over the country. It began with other Parisian suburbs like Cergy, Ermont, Goussainville, Fosses, Argenteuil ou Sarcelles, where the youngsters burned libraries and shops. Molotov cocktails were thrown to the policemen.
It is now reaching Toulouse, southwest France, where the rioters burned two more libraries and a few dozens of cars. And in Le Havre, northwest France, there seems to be gunshot too:
When Prime Minister François Fillon arrived in Villiers-le-Bel tonight, he declared that the situation was “calm but fragile”… Until now, nine people were arrested among the rioters. The youngest is 13. He was caught while trying to set fire on a municipal bus that he had stolen, without success. Two of the rioters who got arrested were already sentenced to three to ten months in prison.
France is really fed up with these war scenes taking place, whereas she has one of the best social systems in the world. The ones who are spending their nights shooting policemen are the same who ask for national cohesion when they need help. French people are now waiting for Sarkozy to “get rid of the scums, with a karcher if need be” as he promised during the presidential campaign.
As many journalists got their cameras stolen by some angry French youths, amateurs broadcast the best videos we can get:
UPDATE 11/29: Sarkozy vows tough line against rioters
EAUBONNE, France (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged on Wednesday to punish rioters who shot at police but sought to ease tensions with an independent probe into the deaths of two youths that triggered the unrest.
Youths in Paris suburbs and southwestern Toulouse torched several cars and rubbish bins in the third night of tension, but a heavy police clampdown in the Paris area saw a sharp drop in violence from the two previous nights.
Moments after arriving back in France from China, Sarkozy sped off to a hospital in the Eaubonne suburb of Paris where a senior police officer, attacked at the start of the violence on Sunday, was being treated for serious injuries.
Sarkozy, a law-and-order hardliner when interior minister during riots two years ago, praised the officer’s courage and said nothing could justify such violence.
"Those who take it upon themselves to shoot at police will find themselves in the Assizes Court" which handles serious cases, he told reporters later.
Shooting at police "has a name — attempted murder."
"We will find the shooters. We will put in the necessary resources … It is not something that we can tolerate, no matter how dramatic the deaths of these two youngsters on a motorbike may be," he added.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon told parliament a heavy police presence on
Tuesday night had helped restore calm: "Last night there were 1,000 police on
the ground … and we saw the results — there was a very noticeable drop in
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