France unrest before Bastille Day

French youths set 317 cars on fire and wounded 13 police officers overnight during a series of riots on the eve of the Bastille Day holiday, police say.

Paris police said 240 people had been arrested, almost double the number held after unrest on the same day last year.

The injured officers are suffering from hearing difficulties caused by home-made explosives blowing up beside them.

Last week, the death of a young man in police custody caused three nights of riots in the southern town of Firminy.

Police said Mohamed Benmouna, a 21-year-old of Algerian origin, had died after trying to hang himself in a cell earlier in the week.

But his family refused to accept the explanation and subsequently filed a complaint to ask for a full investigation. On Friday, prosecutors ordered a second autopsy to “remove all doubt” in the case.

In 2005, rioting erupted across France after two teenagers died in a Paris suburb. Residents said they had been trying to flee from police.

Riots have become a regular occurrence at the start of Bastille Day, which commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris in 1789, the event regarded as the start of the French Revolution.


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