Almost 1000 cars torched around France on New Year’s Eve but government insists it ‘went particularly well’ – Telegraph.co.uk
The government responded that the figures released were the “most pertinent and the most coherent”.
“There is absolutely no attempt at hiding anything,” said Pierre Henry Brandet, an interior ministry spokesman.
“You have to look at the trend over several years, and what is significant is that there has been a significant drop over five years,”he said.
Mr Brandet conceded, however, that the figure was still too high, adding: “These incidents are not tolerable and the perpetrators must be found and answer for their acts before justice.”
Over New Year, a fire fighter in the eastern department of Ain was hurt while trying to extinguish one car.
In Nice, where security has been extremely tight since the deadly Bastille Day truck attack of last year, two police officers were hurt when revellers threw “projectiles” at them.
Bruno le Roux, the interior minister, said that no attack on security would not be tolerated.
“I regret that once again there were too many instances of security forces being hit with objects, or faced with attacks or insults,” he said.
But he thanked the tens of thousands of police and firefighters, adding that they “allowed December 31st to go off particularly well”.
With France under a state of emergency since a spate of terror attacks, some 90,000 security forces were out in its streets on New Year’s Eve to police mass gatherings such on Paris’ famed Champs-Elysées, where half a million revellers convened.
French domestic intelligence agents also reportedly swooped on a string of individuals ahead of festivities who they suspected might have been tempted to wreak violence.
The custom of setting vehicles alight on New Year’s Eve is said to have kicked off around Strasbourg, eastern France in the 1990s, in the the city’s deprived, high-immigrant districts.
It quickly caught on among disaffected youths in cities across the country, and is seen by some as a litmus test of general social unrest.
The most notorious spate of car burnings in recent years was seen in the 2005 riots when hundreds of vehicles were torched.
Former French president Nicholas Sarkozy briefly abandoned issuing a breakdown of New Year’s Eve car burnings in 2010-11 amid fears this was sparking copycat actions, but it has since been re-instated.