Parisian suburbs suffer seventh straight night of violence

Parisian suburbs have suffered a seventh straight night of violence as youths set fire to dozens of cars in at least nine areas to the north and east of the French capital. The disturbances damaged a shopping center, car dealership and primary school as hundreds of police were deployed to quell the unrest, which was triggered last week by the deaths of two teenagers. See the photoreport of the accident here About 40 cars, two buses and numerous dustbins were set ablaze, a local official told Reuters.In the northeastern suburb Aulnay-sous-Bois, rampaging youths set a Renault dealership on fire and burned at least a dozen cars. A supermarket and local gymnasium were also torched, The Associated Press reported.

In nearby La Courneuve, police said two live bullets were fired at them, AP quoted France-Info as reporting. No officers were injured.One trade union representing police described the unrest as a "civil war" and called on officials to impose a curfew in areas affected by the violence, Reuters said.

The continuing violence adds pressure to Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who cancelled a trip to Canada to tackle the situation and soothe a public row between his ministers over the government's response.Villepin summoned eight ministers to a crisis meeting Wednesday to address the unrest and try to stamp out ministerial squabbling.

The unrest has sparked a war of words between Villepin and his political rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, ahead of 2007 presidential elections.

Villepin told parliament Wednesday he had cancelled plans to leave for Canada. And, while demanding punishment for lawbreakers, he used calmer language than that used by Sarkozy, who had called the protesting youths "scum."

"Let's avoid stigmatizing areas .... let's treat petty crime differently to major crime, let's fight all discrimination with firmness, and avoid confusing a disruptive minority with the vast majority of youngsters who want to integrate into society and succeed," he said.

Earlier Wednesday, President Jacques Chirac called for calm and warned of a "dangerous situation" in the capital's suburbs, reports CNN. I.L.

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