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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 06:33 GMT
French plan curfews to stop riots
A bus burns in the Le Mirail district of Toulouse
A bus is set alight in the southern city of Toulouse

Local authorities in France have been allowed to impose curfews in an attempt to end 11 days of riots, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin says.

Speaking in a television interview, he called the violence "unacceptable" and outlined measures to curb the unrest that has hit 300 towns and cities.

His comments were followed by a night of relative calm across Paris with little or no sign of violence.

However, unrest was reported elsewhere, including Toulouse and Lille.

Mr de Villepin told TF1 television on Monday the government would do whatever it took to bring the violence under control.

He said a further 1,500 officers were being sent in to help the 8,000 police and gendarmes already tackling the unrest.

And, although he ruled out bringing in the army, he said "at each step, we will take the necessary measures to re-establish order very quickly throughout France.

It's also the responsibility of each of us to change our behaviour, to change the way we look at people
Dominic de Villepin

"That is our prime duty; ensuring everyone's protection."

A special cabinet meeting on Tuesday is due to approve the curfew plans.

"Wherever it is necessary, the prefects (regional authorities) will be able, under the authority of the interior minister, to apply a curfew if they think it useful for a return to calm," Mr de Villepin said.

Although the measure is not due to take effect until Wednesday, one mayor in the Paris suburb of Le Raincy declared a curfew on Monday to "avoid a tragedy".

Fresh clashes

Some 17 cars were reported to have been burned in Paris overnight, but the BBC's Johnny Dymond said areas that had been at the centre of previous violence were virtually deserted.

He says there is no easy explanation for the sudden stop in the violence - it may be that the riots have run their course, or that the rioters are simply drawing breath.

In other incidents across the country:

  • More than 800 cars are torched around the country, compared with around 1,500 the night before

  • Police arrest 143 people, compared with 395 on Sunday

  • Rioters set fire to a bus as clashes break out in the southern city of Toulouse

    One man killed
    4,700 cars torched
    1,200 people arrested
    17 people sentenced
    108 police and firefighters injured
    Figures as of 7 November

  • A creche is burned down and at least two cars are set alight in Lille in the north

  • Dozens of cars are set on fire in Lyon and Grenoble

  • Two schools are torched in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie regions, north of Paris

On Monday, hundreds of people gathered in the Paris suburb of Stains to pay tribute to the first victim of the riots.

Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec, 61, died from his injuries after falling into a coma following an attack last week.

In some of the worst violence on Sunday night, two police officers were shot and wounded during what police described as an "ambush" in the Paris suburb of Grigny.

Some countries, including the UK, are urging their citizens to use "extreme care" if travelling in the affected areas.

The leader of France's far-right National Front (FN), Jean-Marie Le Pen, described the situation as nearing "the brink of civil war".

Social problems

Unrest has gripped areas with large African and Arab communities since the deaths in the run-down Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois of two youths, who were accidentally electrocuted at an electricity sub-station.

Firefighter extinguishes truck in Cenon, near Bordeaux

Locals said they were being chased by the police, but the police deny this.

In his interview, Mr de Villepin addressed the chronic social problems in many of the country's deprived areas.

He rejected claims that the law banning Islamic headscarves had contributed to the current problems affecting French Muslims.

But he acknowledged that discrimination remained a serious problem.

He said he planned to speed up a series of measures to improve many of the run-down suburbs hit by the rioting as well as boost opportunities for young people in those areas.

Clichy-sous-Bois: Two teenagers die in electricity sub-station on 27 October. Successive nights of rioting follow rumours they were fleeing police. A number of people arrested or injured
Aulnay-sous-Bois: A flashpoint after violence spread from Clichy. Shots fired at police and cars and shops set ablaze. Further trouble in nearby suburbs, with more shots fired at police
Elsewhere in France: From 3 November, violence spreads to other major cities including Dijon, Marseille, Nice and Strasbourg
Grigny: Overnight clashes in the Paris suburb of Grigny on 6-7 November leave 10 police injured, two seriously
Raincy: Curfew imposed on 7 November following rioting

See Prime Minister de Villepin speaking on French television

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