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Page last updated at 09:15 GMT, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 10:15 UK

France unrest before Bastille Day

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French youths set 317 cars on fire and wounded 13 police officers overnight during a series of riots on the eve of the Bastille Day holiday, police say.

Paris police said 240 people had been arrested, almost double the number held after unrest on the same day last year.

The injured officers are suffering from hearing difficulties caused by home-made explosives blowing up beside them.

Last week, the death of a young man in police custody caused three nights of riots in the southern town of Firminy.

Police said Mohamed Benmouna, a 21-year-old of Algerian origin, had died after trying to hang himself in a cell earlier in the week.

But his family refused to accept the explanation and subsequently filed a complaint to ask for a full investigation. On Friday, prosecutors ordered a second autopsy to "remove all doubt" in the case.

Riots have become a regular occurrence at the start of Bastille Day, which commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris in 1789, the event regarded as the start of the French Revolution.

Commenting on Monday night's events, the opposition Socialist Party said: "There was sadly no surprise there, but it was the result of a policy which has been ineffective for the last seven years despite the increase in legislation on security."



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