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ACHERES, France (AP) - Youths armed with gasoline bombs fanned out from Paris' poor, troubled suburbs to shatter the tranquility of resort cities on the Mediterranean, torching scores of vehicles, nursery schools and other targets during a 10th straight night of arson attacks.
Police deployed a helicopter and tactical teams to chase down youths speeding from one attack to another in cars and on motorbikes. Some 2,300 police were brought into the Paris region to bolster security, France-Info said. More than 250 people were arrested.
The violence - originally concentrated in neighborhoods northeast of Paris with large immigrant populations - is forcing France to confront long-simmering anger in its suburbs, where many Africans and their French-born children live on society's margins, struggling with unemployment, poor housing, racial discrimination, crime and a lack of opportunity.
The unrest, triggered by fury over the deaths of two teenagers, has taken on unprecedented scope and intensity. The violence reached far-flung corners of France on Saturday, from Rouen in Normandy to Bordeaux in the southwest to Strasbourg near the German border, but the Paris region has borne the brunt.
(AP) A youth walks past charred remains of torched vehicles filling a covered parking lot in Suresnes,...
In quiet Acheres, on the edge of the St. Germain forest west of Paris, arsonists burned a nursery school, where part of the roof caved in, and about a dozen cars in four attacks that the mayor said seemed "perfectly organized."
Residents gathered at the school gate demanded that the army be deployed or suggested that citizens band together to protect their neighborhoods. Mayor Alain Outreman tried to cool tempers.
"We are not going to start militias," he said. "You would have to be everywhere."
Arson attacks were reported in the Paris region and outlying cities, many known for their calm. Cars were torched in the cultural bastion of Avignon in southern France and the resort cities of Nice and Cannes, a police officer said.
Arson was reported in Nantes in the southwest, the Lille region in the north and Saint-Dizier in the Ardennes region east of Paris. In the eastern city of Strasbourg, 18 cars were set alight in full daylight, police said.
(AP) Charred remains of torched vehicles fill a covered parking lot in Suresnes, west of Paris,...
In one attack, youths in the eastern Paris suburb of Meaux prevented paramedics from evacuating a sick person from a housing project. They pelted rescuers with rocks and then torched the waiting ambulance, an Interior Ministry official said.
By daybreak Saturday, 897 vehicles were destroyed - a sharp rise from the 500 burned a night earlier, police said. It was the worst one-day toll since the unrest erupted Oct. 27 following the accidental electrocution of the two teenagers who hid in a power substation, apparently believing police were chasing them.
Most rioting has been in towns with low-income housing projects where unemployment and distrust of police run high. But in a new development, arsonists were moving beyond their heavily policed neighborhoods to attack others with less security, said a national police spokesman, Patrick Hamon.
"They are very mobile, in cars or scooters. ... It is quite hard to combat" he said. "Most are young, very young, we have even seen young minors."
Anger was fanned days ago when a tear gas bomb exploded in a mosque in Clichy-sous-Bois, north of Paris - the same suburb where the youths were electrocuted.
Sarkozy also has inflamed passions by referring to troublemakers as "scum."
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin denied that police were to blame. The director of the Great Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, who met Saturday with Villepin, urged the government to choose its words carefully and send a message of peace.
"In such difficult circumstances, every word counts," Boubakeur said.
There appeared to be no coordination between separate groups in different areas, Hamon said. But within gangs, he added, youths are communicating by cell phones or e-mails. "They organize themselves, arrange meetings, some prepare the Molotov cocktails."
In Torcy, close to Disneyland Paris, a youth center and a police station were set ablaze. In Suresnes, on the Seine River west of the capital, 44 cars were burned in a parking lot.