This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1520

Muslims and Africans rampage on French train terrorising passengers for five hours - government covers up attack

Attackers had been released by judge after trashing train on previous night - 600 passengers were victimised by 20 youths
January 5, 2006

"...Authorities acknowledged that the incident revealed confusion among railroad security, the national police and the gendarmerie, a paramilitary force based in rural areas.

Troubles on the train continued even after authorities made arrests and permitted the train to leave Les Arcs-Draguignan about 9 a.m. Sunday with a police contingent aboard, authorities said. As the train approached Marseilles, youths vandalized cars, pulled the emergency brake several times and fled onto the tracks, according to authorities and media reports.

Police arrested three more people on suspicion of possessing drugs and weapons, including a knife and two screwdrivers.

Sarkozy and police union officials questioned the decision of judges to release those who had been arrested on the train that arrived in Nice on New Year's Eve, then wreaked havoc on the return trip.

"The kids broke everything on the train coming in,' so it was clear what they were up to. And the judges let them all go," said Patrice Ribeiro, a police union spokesman...

http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article336549.ece

France accused of covering up train gang attack

By John Lichfield in Paris

Published: 05 January 2006

Opposition politicians have accused the French government of covering up a sustained attack by a gang of 20 young people on a crowded train near Nice on New Year's Day.

The group robbed and sexually assaulted passengers at knifepoint, smashed windows and slashed seats. No information on the incident was released by the authorities, who announced that he New Year festivities had passed off without a widely feared resumption of the violence seen in deprived suburbs in November.

The Socialist former education and culture minister, Jack Lang, accused the government of "disinformation", and the Socialist Party said the Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, had imposed a "stupefying silence" on the attack. Details of the incident emerged only when two people appeared in court three days later, accused of robbery and sexual assault.

It was reported yesterday that more than 100 young people from deprived districts of Marseilles and Avignon had been escorted on to the train by police at Nice early on New Year's Day. The group, some of Arab or African origin and others white, had taken advantage of an offer from the French railways, the SNCF, to travel to Riviera resorts for New Year's Eve for only 1.20 (80p) return. After SNCF security officers left the train at St-Raphael, a gang of 20 terrorised passengers, stealing their wallets and phones and sexually assaulting two women. The train, bound for Marseilles and Lyon, was stopped at Les Arcs sur Argens while gendarmerie reinforcements were called. Six people were arrested.

M. Sarkozy blamed the SNCF yesterday, saying police had not been warned the bargain fares might attract trouble-makers.

After meeting SNCF officials to discuss the incident, the Interior Minister said he hoped to create a national railway police force with 1,000-1,500 officers.

He added that he would host a meeting next week with officials from the country's train, tram and subway systems to talk about ways to better co-ordinate transport security.

Opposition politicians have accused the French government of covering up a sustained attack by a gang of 20 young people on a crowded train near Nice on New Year's Day.

The group robbed and sexually assaulted passengers at knifepoint, smashed windows and slashed seats. No information on the incident was released by the authorities, who announced that he New Year festivities had passed off without a widely feared resumption of the violence seen in deprived suburbs in November.

The Socialist former education and culture minister, Jack Lang, accused the government of "disinformation", and the Socialist Party said the Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, had imposed a "stupefying silence" on the attack. Details of the incident emerged only when two people appeared in court three days later, accused of robbery and sexual assault.

It was reported yesterday that more than 100 young people from deprived districts of Marseilles and Avignon had been escorted on to the train by police at Nice early on New Year's Day. The group, some of Arab or African origin and others white, had taken advantage of an offer from the French railways, the SNCF, to travel to Riviera resorts for New Year's Eve for only 1.20 (80p) return. After SNCF security officers left the train at St-Raphael, a gang of 20 terrorised passengers, stealing their wallets and phones and sexually assaulting two women. The train, bound for Marseilles and Lyon, was stopped at Les Arcs sur Argens while gendarmerie reinforcements were called. Six people were arrested.

M. Sarkozy blamed the SNCF yesterday, saying police had not been warned the bargain fares might attract trouble-makers.

After meeting SNCF officials to discuss the incident, the Interior Minister said he hoped to create a national railway police force with 1,000-1,500 officers.

He added that he would host a meeting next week with officials from the country's train, tram and subway systems to talk about ways to better co-ordinate transport security.

-------------------------

http://www.washingtontimes.com/world/20060104-115755-9546r_page2.htm

PARIS -- A gang of more than 20 youths -- thought to be North African immigrants -- terrorized hundreds of train passengers in a rampage of violence, robbery and sexual assault on New Year's Day, French officials said yesterday.
The five-hour-long criminal frenzy was "totally unacceptable," French President Jacques Chirac told reporters. "Those guilty will be found and punished, as they deserve."
The gang of between 20 and 30 youths boarded the train, heading from Nice on the French Riviera to Lyon, in eastern France, early on Jan. 1, as it carried 600 passengers home from New Year's Eve partying overnight.
Once inside, they went wild, forcing passengers to hand over mobile phones and wallets, and slashing seats and breaking windows.
A 20-year-old woman cornered by several of the marauders was sexually molested.
"It was a real scene of pillage on the train," said the regional state prosecutor, Dominique Luigi, adding that the passengers were in a state of "panic."
Train staff alerted police, and the train pulled into a station to wait. The three officers who initially turned up later were joined by reinforcements.
A waitress in a bar near the station said two young women from the train had come inside in tears.
"They told me there had been groping. They talked about sexual assaults. They were really traumatized," she said.
The train resumed its journey with the heavy police presence on board but, just before Marseille, the youths pulled the emergency stop and many escaped.
Only three -- two 19-year-old Moroccans and a minor, all living in France -- were arrested. Both men were being held for robbery and one also was facing charges of sexual assault. The minor was to be judged separately.
Three others -- a man and two boys -- were arrested briefly in Marseille but were released despite reports they were carrying a knife, a screwdriver and a small amount of hashish.

Police in Nice, meanwhile, said they had escorted the group of drunken youths and put them on the train Sunday to ensure they did not cause trouble in the city.
Police said they thought the gang was part of a bigger group of 100 youths from the Marseille area who had gone to Nice and nearby seaside resorts for New Year's Eve, taking advantage of a special $1 New Year's Day train fare.
News of the violence shocked France, which still was reeling from three weeks of rioting that flared in impoverished suburbs across the country in late October and early November last year.
The opposition Socialist Party said it viewed the incident with "astonishment."
It said "such acts show a worrying lack of security" and questioned why it took so long for police to rescue the passengers and why so few arrests were made.
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who has championed hard-line security policies in France, partly blamed the state rail company SNCF for not communicating better with the police.
"The problem is that law-enforcement services didn't know that there was a promotional fare going," he said.



http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/PrintStory.pl?document_id=2002721144&zsection_id=268448417&slug=train05&date=20060105
Latest youth violence unnerves France

By Sebastian Rotella
Los Angeles Times

PARIS France confronted a new incident of violence Wednesday, a rampage that terrorized passengers as their train rolled east along the Riviera on New Year's Day.

The ordeal became front-page news Wednesday in the nation still on edge from riots in immigrant-dominated urban areas in November. Authorities were criticized for leaving about 600 passengers at the mercy of young people who robbed and sexually assaulted victims for at least 25 minutes as the train traveled from Nice to Marseilles.

The young people were among about 100 police had rounded up earlier after incidents of vandalism in Nice and put on the train to send them home to communities near Marseilles and Avignon.

Passengers tried to barricade themselves in compartments as assailants trashed the train and threatened to kill victims who used cellphones to call for help, authorities said. After police boarded the train in Les Arcs-Draguignan station, shaken passengers took refuge in a cafe, a waitress said Wednesday.

"They had tears in their eyes," said Linda Gasmi in statements reported by French media. "They said women were molested. They mentioned sexual aggression."

Police identified four victims and arrested six suspects for robbery, making death threats and sexual molestation. Witness accounts suggested more assailants and victims were involved but could not be identified.

Two suspects are 19-year-old Moroccan immigrants living in Avignon. Four others are juveniles, who in accord with French law, were not identified.

Police said the national railroad company, SNCF, had assigned a four-man private security team to watch the suspects when the train left Nice. But the guards got off a few stops later.

Many of the young people, all male, were drunk and belligerent when police herded them onto the train in Nice about 6 a.m. Sunday, witnesses said.

Some had been detained and released the previous night for allegedly vandalizing a train arriving from Marseilles for the New Year's Eve celebrations, authorities said. Groups of young people from tough neighborhoods with large North African immigrant populations were drawn to Nice by low-cost holiday fares.

The high-level, if slow, response by senior officials reflected lingering worries about crime, youth gangs and potential new strife in immigrant neighborhoods.

President Jacques Chirac expressed indignation Wednesday. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy promised to create a national railroad police, expanding an existing force that has cut transport crime in the Paris area. Security aboard national trains is handled by the private security force.

"I have asked for a very precise investigation into what happened and who failed in their responsibility," Sarkozy said on TV Wednesday night. "It's not a republic and not a democratic society if you are scared to take the bus, the subway or the train."

The opposition Socialist Party accused the government of downplaying the unrest. Jack Lang, a Socialist leader, said the attack on the train passengers "shows the contrast between the official propaganda intended to lull the French to sleep and the sad reality of worsening insecurity nationwide."

Troubles continued even after authorities made arrests and permitted the train to leave Les Arcs-Draguignan about 9 a.m. Sunday with police aboard, authorities said. Police arrested three more suspects for possession of drugs and weapons.

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1520