Night of riots hit Paris suburb

Police and youths clashed in a fourth night of rioting in a northeastern suburb of Paris ahead of a Monday morning visit by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Groups of young people hurled rocks and set fire to cars during the night, television pictures showed. LCI television said six police officers were hurt and 11 people were arrested.

The violence began four days ago among residents of Clichy-sous-Bois, which has a large immigrant population, over the deaths of two teenagers believed to be of African origin who were electrocuted while fleeing police.

Sixteen people were injured in violence in the suburb on Friday and hundreds of residents marched silently on Saturday to appeal for calm and pay their respects to the two teenagers.

Many northeastern suburbs, where immigrants and families from poor backgrounds live in Soviet-style housing estates, have become notorious for youth violence.

In June, an 11-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet in the northern area of La Courneuve. The eastern suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine made headlines in 2002 when a 17-year-old girl was set alight by an 18-year-old boy whose friends stood nearby.

The latest riots come just days after Sarkozy launched a new crime offensive, ordering specially trained police to tackle 25 neighbourhoods in cities throughout France.

Sarkozy was due to visit the prefecture of Seine-Saint-Denis, which also oversees Clichy-sous-Bois, on Monday morning amid criticism that his policies have increased tensions in tough neighbourhoods.

He was set to meet police and firemen and will also meet the families of the two boys.

Laurent Fabius, a former Socialist prime minister and potential presidential candidate in 2007, said the violence marked a failure for Sarkozy's policies and mocked his frequent visits to violent areas.

"When he announces that he's going to visit such and such a commune or suburb every week, that's not how we resolve those problems," Fabius said on Europe 1 radio.

"We need to act at the same time on prevention, repression, education, housing, jobs ... and not play the cowboy," reports The Reuters. I.L.