Rioting Spreads to 20 Towns Around Paris
`Rampaging youths shot at police and firefighters Thursday after burning car dealerships and public buses and hurling rocks at commuter trains, as eight days of riots over poor conditions in Paris-area housing projects spread to 20 towns.
Youths ignored an appeal for calm from President Jacques Chirac, whose government worked feverishly to fend off a political crisis amid criticism that it has ignored problems in neighborhoods heavily populated by first- and second-generation North African and Muslim immigrants.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin called a string of emergency meetings with Cabinet ministers throughout the day. He told the Senate the government “will not give in” to violence in the troubled suburbs.
“Order and justice will be the final word in our country,” Villepin said. “The return to calm and the restoration of public order are the priority our absolute priority.”‘