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France reports few incidents on riot anniversary

Written by: Staff
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PARIS, Oct 28 (Reuters) Youths torched two buses and police arrested 25 people in French suburbs on the first anniversary of violent riots that spread through France but officials today said it was a relatively quiet night.

Two hooded men boarded a bus in the Seine-Saint-Denis area north of Paris yesterday evening, ordering about 15 passengers and the drivers off before setting it alight. Another bus was set ablaze in another part of the suburb, police said.

''Few incidents have been recorded during the night of October 27/28, 2006,'' the Interior Ministry said in a statement. ''(It was) a relatively quiet night.'' Around 4,000 extra police officers were deployed yesterday night, the ministry said, adding: ''This allowed us to intervene rapidly where certain acts were being committed.'' Six police officers were slightly injured, it said.

In southern Toulouse, the town of Meaux east of Paris and in Clichy-Sous-Bois, the northeastern Paris suburb where last year's riots started, youths attacked some police officers and set cars ablaze, the ministry said.

After several attacks on police in poor suburbs in past weeks, police had said the violence could spiral out of control as the anniversary of last year's riots approached.

But the fears appeared unfounded today.

''It's lively but it's not the riots of last year,'' one police source said during the night.

Last year's unrest started in the ethnically diverse suburb of Clichy-Sous-Bois on October 27 after the electrocution deaths of two teenagers. Witnesses said the boys died while fleeing police.

The riots quickly spread across the country in the worst unrest since student protests in 1968.

Some 1,000 mainly young people from immigrant families marched through the high-rise suburb of Clichy-Sous-Bois on Friday to commemorate the two boys, some sporting T-shirts with the slogan ''Dead for Nothing''.

The government has highlighted the 420 million euros (532.4 million dollar) it has earmarked to improve life in the suburbs.

But many youths and local officials in the poor, run-down neighbourhoods say the root causes of the riots, unemployment, discrimination and bad housing, persist in the suburbs.

Joblessness in some of the high-rise estates runs as high as 40 per cent, some four times the national average.

REUTERS DKB BD1443

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