France riots: nearly 500 arrested but fewer incidents reported in fifth night of unrest
Arrests on Sunday evening fell to nearly 500 after 1,300 people were arrested on Saturday night
French authorities deployed reinforcements to flashpoint cities and made hundreds of arrests as rioting continued across France on Sunday, the fifth night of unrest sparked by the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old who was laid to rest the day before.
A total of 486 people had been arrested across France as of 3am on Sunday, the Interior Ministry said, though the level of violence appeared to have declined since rioting first broke out over the death of Nahel M. in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on Tuesday.
“A calmer night thanks to the resolute action of the security forces,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted early on Sunday.
In Marseille, police dispersed groups of young people on Saturday evening at Canebiere, the main avenue running through the centre of the city, AFP journalists said.
By midnight, the authorities in Lyon and Marseille were reporting fewer incidents than the previous night, with 77 people arrested as of around 1.30 am in the two cities.
A number of towns have imposed overnight curfews.
On Saturday, friends gathered at the funeral of Nahel M, the teenager whose killing by police sparked the unrest.
The funeral began at 11am local time near Nanterre, the Paris suburb where Nahel lived and was shot dead on Tuesday. “A big number” of local residents and friends of the 17-year-old flocked to the funeral home to pay their respects, according to French media reports.
The funeral is private, and lawyers for Nahel’s mother asked the media to stay away.
Overnight cars and buildings were set ablaze and stores looted, despite a heavy police presence.
The government suggested the violence was beginning to ease thanks to tougher security measures, but damage remained widespread, from Paris to Marseille and Lyon and French territories overseas, where a 54-year-old died after being hit by a stray bullet in French Guiana.