French ministers in crisis talks after latest bus attack

A 26-year-old woman is critically ill in a Marseilles hospital after she suffered 70 per cent burns when teenagers poured petrol inside the bus on which she was travelling and set fire to it. Doctors said that if Mama Galledou, a student, survives, she will be maimed for life.

The attack on Saturday night came on the anniversary of last year's rioting in French suburbs and prompted bus drivers in Marseilles to go on strike. The Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, called ministers to his office for an emergency meeting on transport safety.

Politicians of all parties expressed horror at the arson attack but also seized on its potential as ammunition for the 2007 presidential race.

A man who rescued Ms Galledou from the burning bus described her "skin peeling from her body like a glove". The man, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said "she's black and she was wearing nylon trousers. Her skin came off and she became white. She could not stand, she could not sit, it was true horror."

The usually quiet Lilas area of north-east Marseilles, where the attack happened, is not known for extreme rates of delinquency but it is part of the swath of high-rise housing north of Marseilles - the area that produced the footballer Zinedine Zidane - with high unemployment and crime.

According to the Elysée Palace, President Jacques Chirac phoned Ms Galledou's parents to express "his horror in the face of this ignoble act". The Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, also phoned the couple and ordered two companies of riot police to the Lilas area.

There were no indications that the attack was racially motivated and the colour of the hooded youths who poured petrol in the bus was not immediately known. The torching of the bus, which had about 10 people on board when it was ambused by four youths, is likely to have been a copy-cat incident, planned to resemble six others in the suburbs of Paris in recent days.

On 27 October last year, a suspected police chase of three teenagers in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois ended with two of them dying in an electricity substation. The six weeks of rioting that ensued over France - with the exception of Marseilles - highlighted the often hopeless prospects of youths in French suburbs populated by second and third generation immigrants.

But as the weeks went by last year, it became clear that burning vehicles had become a sport for many rioters, who took pleasure in filming them on their mobile phones and placing the pictures on weblogs. Last year, a handicapped woman was badly burnt in a Paris suburb when she failed to escape a burning bus fast enough.

In an attempt to prevent the Marseilles attack from playing into the hands of the hardline Mr Sarkozy - who remains the likely presidential candidate of the centre-right government - the Socialists launched a sharp attack on him.

The Socialist first secretary François Hollande, who is married to the party's probable candidate, Ségoléne Royal, called Mr Sarkozy a "part-time minister" who has neglected France's troubled suburbs and concentrated instead on presidential campaigning.

Doctors at the Assistance Publique in Marseilles said Ms Galledou's condition had "neither improved nor deteriorated" last night.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone