Violence in France's poor suburban communities still raging

The violence in France's poor suburban communities persisted in the south Sunday, with attackers ramming burning cars into a retirement home and a school in one town. In other areas, however, the unrest that has gone on for 18 nights continued to subside.

National Police Chief Michel Gaudin described the drop as a "major lull" in the violence, despite scattered incidents of serious attacks. The nation's worst violence in nearly four decades has declined slowly over the last week since its ferocious climax last weekend. Residents and police said the unrest has been curbed in many areas with a combination of parental and community pressure on the youths involved in the attacks, more aggressive arrests by police and the imposition of curfews.

Most of the violence has been concentrated in poor communities with large populations of immigrants and their French-born children. It has opened a nationwide debate over the inequities and discrimination in French society.

Some of the worst incidents over the weekend occurred in southern France. In Carpentras, a town of 28,000 people in the Provence region, young men rammed burning cars into a retirement center and a school in separate attacks Saturday night. Police said no one was injured. On Friday night, a man on a motorcycle hurled two molotov cocktails at a mosque, slightly damaging the building.

In the southeastern city of Lyon, traces of gasoline were discovered Sunday on the exterior of the Grand Mosque, but no fire was reported. About 50 young men and boys rampaged through the city's main square Saturday night, attacking street vendors' stalls, small shops and cars.

Arsonists torched an electronics store Saturday night in Blangnac, a community on the outskirts of the southern city of Toulouse that has been the scene of much unrest in recent nights, reports Washington Post. I.L.

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