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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Police clash with youth in Paris suburb

PARIS(AP) - Police in a troubled Parisian suburb clashed Tuesday with dozens of young people armed with baseball bats, an incident that revived fears of more riots like those that shook the nation last year.

French media reports said seven police were injured in the melee in the town of Montfermeil, where masked youths hurled projectiles and swung bats at police officers.

A police official for the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris said the clashes started late Monday night and lasted three hours before police dispersed the crowd early Tuesday.

Montfermeil is near Clichy-sous-Bois, the flashpoint for the riots late last year. Two youths were electrocuted there in October while hiding from police in a power substation, prompting violence by disenfranchised youths, many of immigrant origin, in suburbs across the country.

The riots laid bare decades of discrimination and France's failure to integrate immigrants and provide opportunities for impoverished youth.

Transport Minister Dominique Perben called the overnight incident a "reminder" of last year's riots.

"The question of the suburbs is a question for the entire political class," he said on I-tele television Tuesday morning. "We must have the courage to look things in the face."

Tension in Montfermeil has remained high since the mayor last month banned teenagers from circulating in groups of more than three, and ordered youths under 16 to be accompanied by an adult in public. A court later overturned the bans after protests from civil liberties groups.
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