Tensions continue to rise one day before the first anniversary of riots in France’s suburbs. News agencies quoted police as saying youths set fire to three buses on the outskirts of Paris on Wednesday night. Passengers in Nanterre managed to escape but in Bagnolet a gun was held to the driver’s head and passengers were ordered off the bus.
In Athis-Mons, three youths threw a Molotov cocktail into the aisle, after ordering people off the bus. And a private coach was also burned in Vénissieux, a suburb of Lyon. At his monthly press conference, the French Prime Minister called for strong and swift punishment.
Dominique de Villepin said: “There must be an immediate response to the events of last night -arrests and punishment making an example of those who are responsible for the attacks. We will not have “no go zones” in this country, where the law doesn’t apply,” the Prime Minister said. “We want the same rules to apply everywhere in this land and for people to have the same chances.”
Bus routes targeted by the violence were suspended because of fears of attack. Some drivers refused to work. “What’s happening now is a little like July the 14th,” one said. “They’re celebrating because they’ve discovered another day on which they can burn buses.” Young people from the suburbs have presented a list of grievances to government. Poverty and discrimination were at the heart of last year’s riots and a year on, despite the Prime Minister’s comments, many say nothing has changed.