Published January 13, 2015
Dozens of hooded youths attacked two police vehicles with metal bars, set fire to more than a dozen parked cars and torched a community center in northeast France, officials said Friday.
The rampage in a tough neighborhood in Saint-Dizier, about 120 miles east of Paris, revived memories of a wave of car burnings, vandalism and clashes with police by youths in 2005.
Authorities were not sure what sparked the violence by 30 to 40 youths late Thursday, which erupted as firefighters escorted by police entered the troubled Vertbois neighborhood in response to a report of a fire.
Two injuries were reported: a police officer was treated for cuts from broken glass, and a firefighter received blows from a metal bar on his arm.
"There are always high tensions in this housing project", said Yves Guillot, the state administrator for the Haute-Marne region. The youths fled the scene, and riot police were called in from nearby Reims.
The office of Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said she would visit the scene Friday.