Second day of Toulouse riots over killing

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The Independent Online
RIOTING YOUTHS went on the rampage for the second successive day in suburbs ofToulouse, south-west France, yesterday after the police shot and killed a teenager at the weekend.

In fresh clashes last night which saw rioters stone police and bombard them with petrol bombs, a French journalist was stabbed in the stomach and a police officer was injured. Six officers were hurt when violence flared into rioting on Sunday following the fatal shooting ofHabib Muhammed, 17, during a car theft.

The violence erupted again overnight despite the arrest earlier of two policemen and the suspension of a third in connection with the shooting.

The violence was the latest outbreak resulting from tension between police and disaffected youths from poor immigrant families in many cities in France. Public transport workers in dozens of cities have gone on strike in recent months to protest against the violence. Bus drivers in Toulouse struck after one was attacked during riots. The Urban Affairs minister, Claude Bartolone, cancelled a scheduled visit to the city without explanation.

In a statement last nightMichel Breard, State Prosecutor, said the policemen opened fire on Habib as he tried to escape in a stolen BMW after breaking into another vehicle with an accomplice at 3am.

Mr Breard said the young man was hit by a single shot through the shoulder and chest and was found dead three hours later. He said the policemen failed to report the incident when they returned from patrol, apparently assuming Habib had managed to escape.

The young man's friends told reporters police had fired six shots and hit him twice. They said he was left unattended for over an hour in a gutter where he died.

Social workers said the incidents followed months of tension between police and youths who complained of harassment, with some saying they were stopped for identity checks up to 10 times a day.

Police said on Friday they broke up a gang in the Mirail neighbourhood, where the main clashes took place, which had held up six banks and carried out 20 attacks against shops by ramming cars into the windows.

Outbursts of anger like those in Toulouse have increased in recent years and police are wary of entering many low-income, immigrant neighbourhoods except in large groups. About 5 million Muslims live in France, including hundreds of thousands of French-born children of North African Arab origin.

Similar incidents took place in Dammarie-les-Lys, south of Paris, on Saturday where six cars were burned and petrol bombs thrown at a police vehicle.

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