Police arrested five people in the southern French city of Grenoble early on Saturday after rioters exchanged gunfire with authorities and set fire to buildings following the fatal shooting by police of a man accused of robbing a casino.
AFP - Rioters exchanged gunfire with police in the French city of Grenoble early Saturday, setting fire to shops and cars after police shot dead a man accused of robbing a casino.
Youths torched between 50 and 60 cars in the southeastern French city, as well as construction equipment and two shops, while police said they made five arrests.
Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux was to visit the city Saturday afternoon, his ministry said.
The rioting started after a memorial service for 27-year-old Karim Boudouda, who died 24 hours earlier in a shootout with police after allegedly holding up the Uriage-les-Bains casino near Grenoble.
Shortly before midnight, a group of around 30 youths armed with baseball bats and iron bars attacked a tram in Boudouda's working class district of La Villeneuve and forced the passengers to get out.
Police intervened to protect the passengers, and the youths began torching vehicles and attacking police who responded with tear gas.
At around 2:30 am (0030 GMT), a youth emerged at the front of the rioters and fired a shot at police, who returned fire four times, police spokeswoman Brigette Jullien told AFP.
Nobody was injured in the riots, police said.
By Saturday morning order had been restored in La Villeneuve, and police could no longer be seen on the neighbourhood's streets.
According to police union SGP-FO, violence has been on the rise in recent months in Grenoble.
"Police are at breaking point," said regional union chief Daniel Chomette, who called for reinforcements.
The casino at Uriage-les-Bains was the third to be attacked in southeastern France and Switzerland since late March.
An alleged accomplice of Boudouda escaped during the shootout and is still on the run. Police found between 20,000 and 40,000 euros (25,000-50,000 dollars) in the back of the getaway car.
Prosecutor Jean Philippe said the police had acted in legitimate self-defence when they were fired on at least three times after a car chase which ended in La Villeneuve.
The police fired back, hitting Boudouda in the head, he said.
An autopsy was to be carried out Saturday on Boudouda, who had three convictions for armed robbery.
Police said they had arrested two men aged 18 and 20 for setting fire to vehicles and three more for attempted looting of shops.
Date created : 2010-07-17