, PARIS, Jul 14 – French youths burned 317 cars and wounded 13 police officers overnight during the now traditional bout of street violence on the eve of the Bastille Day national holiday, police said.
As French troops and their guests of honour from the Indian army made last minute preparations for the July 14 parade on the Champs Elysees in Paris, the suburbs of major cities were contemplating another clean-up operation.
By 6:00 am (0400 GMT), police headquarters in Paris had recorded 317 burnt out cars — up 6.7 percent on 2008 — and 240 arrests, almost double the total for the same period last year.
These numbers were expected to increase as fresh reports came in.
The injured officers, 12 members of the police and one gendarme, were mainly suffering from hearing difficulties after being targeted by youths throwing fireworks and small-scale home-made explosives.
France marks Bastille Day as the anniversary of July 14, 1789, when a revolutionary mob stormed the Parisian prison and set in motion the events that would lead to the overthrow of the monarchy.
Today, disaffected youths from bleak suburban housing projects around major cities use it to express their frustration with high unemployment rates and what they see as France’s failure to integrate ethnic minorities.