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Death of young man in police custody sparks violent protests in France

Lionel Bonaventure, AFP | A French police officer armed with a SIG Sauer pistol in Persan, a town in the northern regional department of Val d'Oise

Angry crowds hurled petrol bombs at police and set cars alight in an area north of Paris overnight following the death of a young man in police hands earlier this week, a French official said.


Nine people were arrested in a second consecutive night of violence, which involved some 200 locals and 180 police officers in the Val d’Oise region 40 km (25 miles) north of Paris, Jean-Simon Merandat, director of the local prefect’s office, said.

About 15 cars and dozens of public garbage bins were set on fire by crowds who also hurled petrol bombs at a nursery school and a town hall, Merandat told public radio station France Info.

French authorities have made no link between tensions in the area and the deadly truck attack in the southern coast city of Nice last week for which the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility.

Weeks of rioting erupted in Paris’s often grim suburbs in 2005 after the death of youths who were electrocuted when they hid from police in a power generation hub.

Merandat told France Info nobody was injured on either side in the second night of confrontation and that calm had returned by the early hours of Thursday.

The protests in the Val d’Oise area began on Tuesday night when, according to deputy prosecutor François Capin-Dulhoste, a 24-year-old man died as he was being taken away by police after being arrested.

Five police were slightly injured on the first night, when they were shot at by people with firearms, he said.

Capin-Dulhoste said the dead man suffered a heart problem during transportation to a police station but that the cause of death was being investigated.

Family members said police hit the man as they detained him for trying to prevent the arrest of his brother on suspicion of violence and extortion.


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