France's prime minister is launching a new bid to heal what he called a nation fractured between haves and have-nots, after terrorist attacks exposed long-simmering discrimination and social and religious tensions.

Manuel Valls shocked many this week by referring to a "territorial, social, ethnic apartheid" in the suburbs, or "banlieues," ringing France's major cities, where neglected housing projects are home mainly to minorities with immigrant roots.

Valls is holding a special government meeting Thursday to address the problem. His proposals will not be the first.

France's suburbs have haunted French leaders for at least 25 years. Long havens for drug-dealing and other crimes, they took on new visibility with the attacks this month by French Islamic radicals who had lived in such neighborhoods. Twenty people, including the gunmen, were killed.