Bus drivers strike over urban violence

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The Independent Online
Bus crews in Mulhouse, eastern France, stopped work yesterday in protest against attacks by young people in troubled council estates on the edge of the town. This was the second strike of its kind in a French city in a couple of days.

Crews in Nancy, also in eastern France, stopped work on Saturday. Six young men, including five minors, were formally accused yesterday of attacking two bus-drivers in a suburb of the city on Friday night. They face charges of "gang violence and theft" after allegedly menacing one driver with baseball bats and throwing stones at another.

The attacks follow a pattern of increasing violence in recent days in the so-called quartiers difficiles - suburbs with large concentrations of immigrants and unemployment - of several large French cities. There were near-riots in Lille last week. In Mulhouse, three buses have been attacked by gangs of youths in the last three days. A bullet was fired right through one vehicle, smashing two windows and slightly injuring a passenger on Friday night; a tear-gas grenade was thrown at a second bus and a stone at a third. There have been 263 similar incidents in Mulhouse since the start of the year.

Bus crews stopped work in protest on Sunday night and 150 drivers staged a demonstration in the town yesterday morning.

The town hall promised them new measures to protect buses and their crews, including the hiring of 13 young unemployed people. The youngsters would be trained as "security assistants" by the police, the town hall said. Their job would be to the "install calm and dialogue" in public transport in the town. -

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