French vigilantes declare war on drugs

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PARIS (Reuter) - An anti- racist group vowed yesterday to rid French suburbs of drug dealers as the authorities tried to discourage a wave of vigilante violence. France- Plus, a group promoting integration of North Africans in France, said residents of a suburb in Lille had been right to take the law into their own hands and eject suspected traffickers last weekend.

'It was a healthy reaction. You must listen to the angry scream rising from the suburbs,' the group's president, Areski Dahmani, said. He said France-Plus would gather its militants from 150 neighbourhoods next weekend to discuss a wide-ranging offensive against drug-trafficking. 'We will take initiatives over the next few weeks to rid the suburbs of drugs,' he told Le Figaro.

Controversy continued over incidents this weekend in which police watched as 200 young people armed with stones and baseball bats, drove alleged dealers out of Les Biscottes, an area notorious for drugs,and set fire to their cars. Mr Areski said residents were indignant as they felt police in the suburbs knew who the dealers were but failed to crack down.