Lyons riots continue for third day on run

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The Independent Online
LYONS (AFP) - Riots broke out in a suburb of this eastern- central French city yesterday, in the third night of violence which has left buildings and vehicles wrecked and seen nine people arrested.

Hundreds of police reinforcements were deployed in the Lyons suburbs of Vaulx-en-Velin, Rillieux-la-Pape and Bron, where fire services said two cars and a building had been set alight. The authorities said around a dozen vehicles and a former social services centre were torched overnight on Saturday in Vaulx-en-Velin.

A gymnasium in Bron and a pharmacy were also wrecked. Overnight on Friday dozens of youths set fire to a sports centre in Vaulx-en-Velin.

Police said the rioting was sparked by the deaths in a stolen car on Thursday of two youngsters from the Lyons suburbs as they tried to avoid a police roadblock.

The city's mayor, socialist Jean-Jack Queyranne, yesterday condemned the rioting as 'premeditated acts of delinquency carried out by organised gangs'. Gerard Dana, the deputy mayor in charge of youth issues, said he sensed 'a powerful tension . . . rising among the young and inactive populations of our cities, who spend their lives killing time'.

A Bron resident, Ikrimah Abdesslam, 40, said the youth of the area had been 'left to drift', adding that the violence represented 'the returns on government policies which have abandoned youngsters of Maghreb (north African Arab) origin to their fate'.

As some youngsters warned yesterday that events over the previous two nights were 'only the beginning', Bron residents openly threatened to arm themselves to defend their property.

The trouble has resembled other incidents of rioting over the past few years in the suburbs of France's big cities, poor dormitory areas where municipal housing is concentrated, making for a mix of a large immigrant communities and unemployment.