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Clashes continue in Paris suburbs over alleged police rape

Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt, AFP | A burnt-out van in the northern Paris suburb of Argenteuil on February 12, 2017

At least 11 people, including eight minors, were arrested in the northwestern Paris suburb of Argenteuil on Sunday, in the latest of a string of violent protests over the alleged police rape of a 22-year-old black man identified as Théo.

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Around 50 people gathered in Argenteuil’s main square at around 5:30pm local time in response to a call posted on social media, according to police, who said the protesters came with the express purpose of “instigating clashes with security forces”.

Demonstrators hurled projectiles at police, setting fire to a vehicle and three rubbish bins.

“We saw around 30 young people with their faces hidden behind scarves carrying iron bars. There were bins filled with smoke overturned on the ground,” one resident told French daily Le Parisien.

The protesters also attacked a public bus, wounding the driver’s head, in addition to assaulting a journalist covering the demonstration, police said.

The clashes came a day after similar scenes of violence erupted in the nearby suburb of Bobigny at a rally in support of Théo, who was allegedly beaten by four officers and anally penetrated with a police truncheon on February 2.

The youth worker suffered such severe injuries to his rectum that he needed major emergency surgery and remains in hospital.

French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux denounced the ongoing unrest on Monday in a public appeal for calm.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms all violence that took place over the weekend,” he said. “I call for calm. I call for responsibility, for peace, for faith in the justice system.”

Three officers involved in the incident have been charged with aggravated assault and a fourth is being investigated for rape.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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