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French suburbs rocked by more riots

  • Story Highlights
  • Riots in French suburb for second night after two teens killed in police crash
  • Violence spreads from Villiers-le-Bel, north of Paris, to two nearby towns
  • More than 60 police injured, bombarded with Molotov cocktails and bottles of acid
  • Parallels drawn with unrest in 2005, when President Sarkozy was interior minister
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PARIS, France (CNN) -- The Paris suburbs were again rocked by riots after a second night of lawlessness Monday caused widespread destruction and left scores of police injured, according to French authorities and media reports.

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Firefighters in a Paris suburb battle to control a blaze started after youths rioted Sunday night.

An angry mob repeatedly clashed with riot police and torched cars and buildings in the town of Villiers-le-Bel, north of Paris, after two teens on a motorcycle were killed following a collision with a police car Sunday night.

Rioters bombarded police with baseball bats, Molotov cocktail bombs and bottles filled with acid as the violence spread to the nearby towns of Longjumeau and Grigby Monday night.

The 15- and 16-year-old boys, both sons of African immigrants, according to police, died when their motorbike hit a patrol car in Villiers-le-Bel.

Some residents, populated largely by immigrants and their French-born children, accused police of fleeing the crash scene. However, three eyewitnesses, interviewed on TV, said the police stayed and tried to revive the two boys with mouth to mouth resuscitation. Video Watch why a repeat of past rioting is feared »

More than 60 police officers were injured in Monday night's confrontation, with five kept in hospital in a serious condition, according to reports in a number of French newspapers.

A spokesman for the police authorities in the Val d'Oise prefecture refused to confirm the numbers of police injuries, telling CNN that police feared the information could further enflame the already tense situation.

The police spokesman said 60 cars, a library and car dealer's showroom had been set on fire in Villiers-le-Bel. He said a police station had also been damaged and 15 garbage cans torched.

Security was tightened Tuesday, with helicopters deployed to patrol over the town, the spokesman said.

Villiers-le-Bel was not among the districts hit by the weeks of nationwide rioting in November 2005, when disaffected youths nationwide set thousands of cars ablaze to protest against unemployment and discrimination.

Those riots were also sparked by fatalities, namely the deaths of two men of North African descent who were electrocuted while hiding from police in an electrical substation.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy, then serving as the interior minister, provoked controversy at the time by referring to the rioters as "scum."

Sarkozy, currently on a state visit to China, had urged residents Monday to "cool down and let the justice system determine who is responsible for what." A spokesman for the president's office told CNN Tuesday they were continuing to monitor the situation.

The prosecutor's office in the nearby town of Pontoise has already begun an inquiry into the deaths.

Police said the teens drove through a red light without wearing helmets and on an unregistered bike.

But Omar Sehhouli, the brother of one of the victims, told French media the police involved should be arrested. "Everyone knew the two boys here," he told French radio. "What happened, that's not violence, it's rage."

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According to the initial findings from the French police watchdog, reported Tuesday in the daily newspaper, Le Figaro, the boy's motorbike was driving "at very high speed" and had failed to give priority to the police patrol vehicle.

The police car was driving normally at around 40 kilometers an hour, the newspaper reported the watchdog had found. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Jim Bittermann contributed to this report

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