French police battle rioters in Toulouse

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TOULOUSE, France — Angry youths in a deprived area of the French city of Toulouse have attacked police, torched cars and set fire to garbage during two nights of clashes that have led to 18 arrests, police said on Tuesday.

The rioting in the Mirail area of the southern city, a high-crime neighborhood once home to several militants, was apparently sparked by the death of a local man in prison and an identity check by police on a veiled woman on Sunday.

After nearly four hours of clashes on Sunday night that saw gangs throw stones at the local police station and set fire to about 10 cars, violence flared again on Monday night.

“Security forces were targeted throughout the night and carried out 18 arrests for violence, arson and insults,” a statement from top local security official Pascal Mailhos said.

Anger in the area appeared to have been fueled by the death of a local man in the nearby Seysses prison on Saturday which led to rumors that guards were responsible.

A judicial investigation is underway, local prosecutors said, adding that an autopsy had found that suicide was the cause of the death.

Local police chief Arnaud Bavois said that an identity check on a fully veiled woman on Sunday exacerbated the tensions after she refused to show her papers to officers.

The Mirail area of Toulouse, whose high-rise social housing projects are known areas for drug dealing and delinquency, is a trouble spot that has been designated a priority area by French police.

The city is also home to European aerospace giant Airbus. — AFP


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