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Youths Throw Rocks at French Police

December 14, 1998

TOULOUSE, France (AP) _ French youths angered by the shooting death of a teen-age car thief showered rocks and chunks of concrete on police tonight in a second evening of violence. Riot police responded with tear gas.

Bus drivers, meanwhile, went on strike to protest Sunday night’s melee, which left one bus in flames.

Small groups of youths stood atop buildings in a working-class neighborhood of this southwestern city this evening, pelting riot police.

A French radio journalist was stabbed in the stomach but was reported to be in stable condition. Six police officers were injured in violence on Sunday.

Tensions between French police and disaffected youth from poor immigrant families have erupted in across cities in France. Transit drivers in dozens of cities have gone on strike in recent months to protest the violence.

The rioting in Toulouse began after police shot and killed Habib, a 17-year-old youth from a poor neighborhood who was trying to steal a BMW before dawn Sunday.

At least 150 police faced off later Sunday against 200 youths in a working class district in Toulouse that has an unemployment rate of 35 percent. The angry youths threw stones and firebombs at security forces.

Two police were being detained for questioning in the shooting, and authorities were awaiting the results of an autopsy tonight on the youth. The officers contend the shooting was accidental.

Authorities were also searching for the youth’s accomplice in the attempted car theft.

Meanwhile, many Toulouse commuters suffered through a day without public transit after bus drivers walked off the job to protest violence against them.

The drivers justified their walkout by saying it wasn’t safe to work. Striking drivers also picketed the bus depot in Toulouse, a city of 350,000 people.

The strikers said the driver of the bus that was set on fire was attacked by rioters. However, management said the driver was stuck by glass after the windshield was shattered by a baseball bat.

Officials also closed the subway stations in the working-class neighborhoods of La Reynerie and Belle-Fontaine today to avoid vandalism.

Toulouse was one of the cities where violence broke out between poor youths and soccer fans during the World Cup last summer.

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