AMIENS, FRANCE: The French city of Amiens yesterday began a costly cleanup after two nights of rioting that left France again asking itself what to do about marginalized urban neighbourhoods that have regularly erupted into violence in the past decade.
The city's northern quarter was calm overnight, 24 hours after rampaging youths torched cars and public buildings, hurled explosives improvised from fireworks and fired buckshot at police.
France's Interior Ministry announced yesterday that a heavy police presence would be maintained in the neighbourhood for several days to ensure there was no repeat.
Around 250 officers were deployed overnight following clashes in which 16 officers were injured, one of them seriously.
“The reinforcements will remain deployed over the next few days and nights to ensure a complete return to normal,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement.
Valls promised a crackdown on “troublemakers” would be balanced by attempts to foster a partnership between police and the local community in order to avoid further conflict.
Gilles Demailly, the mayor of the city some 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Paris, said the cost of repairing or rebuilding public buildings that were damaged or destroyed could run to six million euros (about $7.4 million).
The scale of the damage — a sports centre and a primary school suffered extensive fire damage — made the Amiens riot the most serious incident of its kind since the Villeneuve suburb of Grenoble exploded two years ago.
France's Socialist government has promised a tough response with Valls warning that no amount of social deprivation could excuse firing at police or burning public buildings.
“The rule of law, order and justice has to be re-established here in Amiens and the police will be given the means to ensure that they are,” he vowed.
President Francois Hollande has promised to boost police numbers in some of France's most deprived urban areas and said that the fight against crime will be spared the cutbacks most government departments face.