Police tighten security at Eiffel Tower security
Updated: 2005-11-13 17:03
Thousands of police guarded the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees and train
stations as part of emergency measures enacted in response to text messages and
Internet postings that called for "violent actions" in Paris.
Smoke rises from the burnt out
buildings at a commercial centre in Evreux, 96Km (60 miles) west of Paris
early November 6, 2005.
National Police Chief
Michel Gaudin said police were taking "every precaution," including banning
certain public gatherings, a day after the calls for "violent actions" Saturday
evening in Paris were posted on Internet blogs and sent in text messages to cell
"This is not a rumor," Gaudin told a news conference, citing Paris'
best-known landmarks among potential targets. "One can easily imagine the places
where we must be highly vigilant."
However, no trouble anywhere in Paris had been reported overnight Saturday to
Unrest has weakened in intensity since the government declared a
state-of-emergency Tuesday, empowering local authorities to invoke exceptional
security measures such as curfews if deemed necessary.
Despite heightened security around the country, new violence broke out
Saturday night in the southeastern city of Lyon. Police fired tear gas to
disperse stone-throwing youths at the city's historic Place Bellecour. It was
the first time in 17 nights of unrest across France that youths and police
clashed in a major French city.
In separate incidents Saturday night in the southern city of Carpentras,
rioters rammed burning cars into the side of a retirement home and a school,
national police spokesman Laurent Carron said. A primary school and linen store
were also set ablaze in Carpentras, he said.
Police counted 315 cars torched and said 161 people were arrested across
France overnight as of 4 a.m. (0300 GMT).
A police officer was injured after he was hit with a metal ball dropped from
an apartment building in the northern Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Carron said.
Arsonists also set an electronics store on fire Saturday night in Blangnac,
on the outskirts of Toulouse, the regional government said.
Just hours earlier, regional authorities had imposed a weekend curfew on
Lyon, France's third-largest city, that barred youths under 18 from being
outside without adult supervision between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Some 40 towns, suburbs and smaller cities have imposed curfews on minors to
clamp down on violence that started October 27 in a tough Paris suburb and has
grown into a nationwide insurrection marked by extensive arson and clashes with
Paris police took the exceptional step of banning all public gatherings that
could "provoke or encourage disorder" from 10 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday.
Police spokesman Hugo Mahboubi said it had been at least a decade and possibly
longer since authorities had imposed any similar ban on gatherings in the French
As unrest continued, calls for peace and political change were mounting.
Seventy-one percent of French people do not believe President Jacques Chirac
can solve social problems that fueled the riots, according to an poll published
Sunday by the Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
However, more than half expressed confidence in Prime Minister Dominique de
Villepin and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy to find solutions, the poll said.
The IFOP poll gave no margin of error.
Police allowed an evening demonstration in Paris' Latin Quarter, which drew
several hundred people protesting against the state-of-emergency measures. Many
of the protesters were left-wing political groups and members of
Communist-backed unions. They called for the resignation of Sarkozy, who has
been accused of inflaming the violence by calling troublemakers "scum."
Under tight police surveillance, protesters called the strict new measures a
"provocation" that would not resolve violence or answer the long-term problems
that caused the unrest. A similar rally in the southern city of Toulouse drew
about 700 people.
The violence first started in the northeastern Parisian suburb
Clichy-sous-Bois on October 27. About 100 youths rioted to protest the
accidental deaths of two Muslim teens, who were electrocuted while hiding from
police in an electricity substation. It quickly triggered rioting in low-income
housing projects across the country that have been centers for unemployment and
The unrest has forced France to confront its failure to integrate minorities
and the anger simmering among its large African and Arab communities.
Late Friday, two gasoline bombs were tossed into a mosque in Carpentras,
slightly damaging the foyer. It was not immediately clear whether the attack was
linked to the unrest.
Chirac asked investigators to find those behind the incident in Carpentras, a
town grimly remembered for a 1990 neo-Nazi attack on a Jewish cemetery that
sparked national outrage.
Police said that unrest was now concentrated outside of the Paris region,
where 86 vehicles were burned overnight Friday-Saturday, compared to a total of
The overall figure was slightly higher than the previous night, but a
significant drop from the 1,400 cars incinerated in a single night of mayhem a
Arson attacks were reported in 163 towns around France overnight
Friday-Saturday _ about half the towns hit by violence a week earlier, the
national police chief said.
Overall, 2,503 people have been detained since the start of the unrest, with
364 of them convicted in expedited trials. Nearly 460 minors have gone before
juvenile courts, 103 of whom were in the process of being charged, the Justice