|GRIGNY, November 7 Rioters shot and wounded police and torched 1,400 vehicles in the worst violence since unrest erupted in France's poor suburbs 11 days ago, and a man beaten by a youth became the first fatality on Monday.
Hospital officials and an Interior Ministry spokesman said 60-year-old Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec died after being beaten in another riot-hit suburb on Friday.
France's worst violence in decades defied a vow by President Jacques Chirac to defeat the troublemakers and has grown worse daily since erupting in a Paris suburb on October 27.
One of France's largest Muslim organisations, reacting to official suggestions that Islamist militants might be orchestrating some of the protests, issued a fatwa against the unrest, but violence reached new levels overnight.
In the most serious incident, youths at a housing estate in Grigny, south of Paris, ambushed police with rocks, petrol bombs and guns. Two policemen were seriously hurt by pellets shot into their neck and legs.
"This is real, serious violence. It's not like the previous nights," said Bernard Franio, head of police for the Essonne area south of Paris, after about 200 youths attacked his colleagues.
"There were burnt cars all over the place and helicopters circling overhead," said Yvonne Roland, who has lived in Grigny for 25 years. "It made you feel like you were in a war zone."
The government has struggled to formulate a response that could halt the riots, sparked by frustration among ethnic minorities over racism, unemployment and harsh treatment by police. Chirac, in his first public comments on the unrest, said late on Sunday that the state was determined "to be stronger than those who want to sow violence or fear".
The police union Action Police CFTC urged the government to impose a curfew on riot-hit areas and call in the army to control the youths, many of whom are French-born citizens of Arab or African origin complaining of racism. "Nothing seems to be able to stop the civil war that spreads a bit more every day across the whole country," the CFTC said in a statement. "The events we're living through now are without precedent since the end of the Second World War."
Five cars torched in Berlin copycat attack
BERLIN: Five cars were set alight in a working-class area of the German capital Berlin, with police saying it was a possible attempt to copy the violence currently sweeping French cities. The cars were spread over five different streets of the Moabit area of Berlin and were torched in the early morning on Monday. Several cars and a disused building were also set on fire overnight Saturday in the northern German port city of Bremen. AFP/PTI