Young people in Paris suburb turn violent over lockdown curbs
PARIS : Young people set bins on fire and let off fireworks in low-income suburbs near Paris, French media said yesterday, in a new night of unrest as strict lockdown rules to curb the coronavirus threaten fragile social peace in deprived areas.
Television stations BFM TV and C News showed images of fireworks being set off in areas such as Villeneuve-La-Garenne, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Asnieres as riot police moved in, while AFP also reported bins being set on fire.
Trouble had first broken out in Villeneuve-La-Garenne, north of the French capital, on Saturday night, after a motorcyclist collided with an unmarked police car during a chase.
The male driver had to go to hospital for treatment, and French police have said they will launch an internal inquiry into the incident.
France's banlieues, or high-rise neighbourhoods ringing many of its cities, have long been flashpoints of anger over social and economic grievances. In 2005, unrest lasted three weeks after two youths died fleeing police in a northern Paris suburb.
France on Monday officially registered more than 20,000 deaths from the coronavirus, becoming the fourth country to pass that threshold after Italy, Spain and the United States, and the pace of the increase in fatalities and infections sped up again after several days of slowing.
"The epidemic is very deadly and is far from over," France's public health chief Jerome Salomon told a news briefing, adding that the death toll was now higher than that of the heat wave in the summer of 2003.
But he said the number of people in intensive care had fallen for the 12th consecutive day to 5,683 - the lowest since March 31 - suggesting the national lockdown is having positive effects in containing the disease.
Another encouraging signal was a decline for the sixth day in a row in people hospitalised for Covid-19, even though the total, at 30,584 versus 30,610 on Sunday, is only going down slowly.
While France is due to start relaxing some confinement measures from May 11, Mr Salomon insisted on the importance of strictly complying with the lockdown.- AFP, REUTERS