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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 01:43 GMT
France lifts state of emergency
French firemen putting out a fire in Lyon
At the height of the violence, 1,400 cars were torched in one night
The French government has lifted a state of emergency imposed in November during the worst unrest in the country in nearly 40 years.

The emergency measures - including powers to impose curfews and conduct police searches without warrants - formally ended early on Wednesday.

Almost 9,000 cars were torched and 3,000 people arrested in three weeks of urban violence across France last year.

President Jacques Chirac said the measures had been "strictly temporary".

Poor suburbs

The move to lift the emergency laws was made by the cabinet on Tuesday, after President Chirac's office announced his decision to lift the emergency powers.

"Given the situation of the past few weeks, I have decided to end it," Mr Chirac said in his traditional new year's address to the cabinet.

RIOTS IN FIGURES
8,973 cars burnt
2,888 arrests
20 nights of riots
Source: French police

The riots began when two boys of North and West African origin were electrocuted in a Paris suburb after running from police, believing they were being chased.

Residents of the country's poor, largely immigrant suburbs, where most of the unrest took place, complained of racism and heavy-handed policing.

The state of emergency ended six weeks earlier than planned.

It was introduced under a little-used law dating back to 1955, when France was waging a war - ultimately unsuccessful - against independence fighters in Algeria.


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