French police arrest another 26 in troubled Paris suburbs

AP , Thursday 9 Feb 2017

Anti-police protests in France
People gather to protest against an alleged police assault on a black man while in their custody in central Paris on February 8, 2017 (Photo: AFP)

Rioters in the Paris suburbs aimed large fireworks at police and set fire to cars and garbage bins in a fourth night of unrest over the alleged rape of a young black man by police, authorities said Thursday.

Police made another 26 arrests overnight Wednesday to Thursday as unrest continued to spread to more towns in Saint-Seine-Denis, a working class region northeast of the French capital with a large minority population.

Unrest first erupted Sunday night after a 22-year-old man was allegedly sodomized with a police officer's baton during an identity check last week. One officer was charged with aggravated rape and three others were charged with aggravated assault. The officers deny the allegations.

The latest arrests on Wednesday night included three people who allegedly shot large fireworks at police, the prosecutors' office said. It said shopping carts, garbage bins and cars were also set alight.

No injuries were reported.

Video that apparently showed the young man's arrest circulated on the internet, showing him on the ground against a wall surrounded by four men, who appeared to be roughing him up.

President Francois Hollande visited the alleged victim, identified only by his first name, Theo, on Tuesday at the suburban hospital where he has been treated since the assault. The young man called for calm from his hospital bed, as did France's prime minister.

Authorities are wary of unrest in France's poor towns, remembering fiery 2005 riots that spread through France — beginning in the Saint-Denis town of Clichy-Sous-Bois, and hopscotching through social housing around the country.

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