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France plans curfews to curb spiralling riots UPDATE
11.08.2005, 01:14 AM

(Updating with further detail)

PARIS (AFX) - More cars were torched overnight but the situation looked calmer after Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced that regions are to be given powers to impose curfews to curb riots that have gripped hundreds of towns across France.

The nightly violence picked up again late Monday but appeared less extreme than at the weekend, when several thousand cars were torched and dozens of police officers injured -- two of them by gunshot.

A total of 814 vehicles had been burned across the country by 4.00 am (0300 GMT) Tuesday, slightly fewer than at the same time on Monday, according to police, who said they had arrested 143 people.

Four police officers had been injured, compared with 34 the previous night.

Among incidents reported early Tuesday was the burning of a gymnasium in the Paris region.

In the northern city of Lille a creche at a school was burnt down in a previously tranquil working class neighbourhood.

And in Auxerre, southeast of the French capital, 15 people were hospitalized with breathing problems after a blaze in a cellar led to the evacuation of the building.

Northeast of Paris in Seine-Saint-Denis, the region where the trouble began, the violence simmered on but authorities said the situation was calmer than on previous nights, with three times fewer calls made to the fire services.

Under pressure to act as the arson and street violence headed into a 12th night, Villepin, speaking on national television, said regional authorities would be given the the power to impose curfews 'where necessary'.

A decree was to be adopted at a special cabinet meeting on Tuesday and curfew measures would be applicable from Wednesday morning, Villepin said.

The prime minister ruled out an army intervention to stop the violence, which spread to some 300 towns over the weekend, but said that 1,500 police reinforcements would be deployed to restore public order.

The escalating violence claimed its first life on Monday as a 61-year-old man, who was beaten into a coma last week, died in hospital.



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