GRENOBLE: Rioters in the French city of Grenoble set fire to 65 cars and targeted security forces with fireworks and Molotov cocktails, officials said on Tuesday, after a third night of violence sparked by the death of two teenagers during a police chase.
Clashes began on Saturday evening when two men, aged 17 and 19, were spotted by police riding a stolen scooter without a license plate and without helmets.
They were being followed by a police vehicle when they crashed into a bus, according to the local prosecutor’s office which is treating their deaths as accidental.
“Young people from the neighbourhood saw what happened and have the feeling that there was a mistake by the police,” said Hassen Bouzeghoub, the director of a social club in Grenoble’s Mistral area where the men died.
A family member, who did not give his name, claimed “police are responsible for their death” in comments made to the media outside the city court on Sunday.
But the Grenoble prosecutor’s office has rejected police liability, saying the men had put others in danger by “running red lights, driving on the pavement, and driving at high speeds”.
Deaths caused during police operations regularly ignite violent protests in deprived areas of French cities where relations between local communities and security forces are often strained.
The fatal shooting of a man in the western city of Nantes sparked nights of rioting last July. The officer was later charged with manslaughter.
In 2005, three weeks of clashes erupted across the country following the deaths of two black teenagers who were electrocuted in a Paris suburb while hiding from the police.
Police were later cleared of wrong-doing in a trial.
Last week, Grenoble’s Mistral district also erupted in violence after a man was arrested for possession of cannabis.
A prison inmate in northwestern France seriously wounded two guards on Tuesday in a knife attack that justice officials said was being investigated as a terror incident.
He then retreated into a room with his wife who was visiting him at the high-security facility in Conde-sur-Sarthe in Normandy, the justice ministry said in a statement.
“It was truly a murder attempt. There was blood everywhere. The family-visiting unit was a battle scene,” said Sall, from the Force Ouvriere trade union.
One of the guards suffered a serious chest wound, while the second was slashed on the face and back, he added.
The attack took place in the family unit where the prisoner, who is serving a 30-year sentence for kidnapping leading to a death, armed robbery and condoning terrorism, was being visited by his wife.
Police reinforcements have been rushed to the prison, the justice ministry said.
Specialised anti-terror magistrates in Paris said they were investigating the case, meaning it was being treated as a terror incident. — AFP