French Riots: 'Urban Guerilla Warfare'

Gangs of youths fought running battles with police Monday for a second consecutive night in a suburb north of Paris. It was an outburst many said was surprising in its intensity.

Their faces hidden behind scarves and hoods, rioters used firearms and hurled Molotov cocktails, paving stones and firecrackers at cops, injuring 77 officers. Four police officers remain hospitalized with air gun and shotgun wounds.

Cmdr. Mohamed Douhane of police union Synergie described the rioting to ABC News as "open rebellion," with youths operating like "urban guerrillas."

"We are dealing with groups of louts who are very mobile, very determined, and who are not hesitating to use firearms to shoot at policemen like rabbits," he said.

About 100 young men set fire to cars and several buildings in the suburb of in Villiers-le-Bel, 12 miles north of the French capital. The fire service quickly arrived on the scene and was able to control most of the flames.

The only building to suffer serious damage was the local public library. Some of those rioting Monday night were said to have been as young as 10 years old.

Riot police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Monday's rioting came a day after two teenagers were killed in a traffic accident involving a police vehicle in the same suburb of Villiers-le-Bel. Police have said that a 15-year-old and 16-year-old were riding on a small motorbike that collided with a police car out on a routine patrol.

Their deaths sparked riots Sunday in Villiers-le-Bel, and the surrounding areas of Gonesse, Sarcelles and Arnouville. Around 30 cars and several buildings were set ablaze. Eight arrests were made, and 20 police officers were injured.

A preliminary investigation by police Monday appeared to clear the officers of responsibility for the road accident.

French Prime Minister François Fillon said today that "those who fire on the police are criminals. They will be treated as such," saying that additional security forces would be deployed in the Parisian suburbs Tuesday night.

Yesterday's riots are reminiscent of the violence that swept across Paris' outlying suburbs in the autumn of 2005 and spread to the rest of the country. Those, too, were sparked by the deaths of two youths, electrocuted in a power substation while hiding from police.

So far, the riots over the past couple of days have been much smaller in scope but more intense, according to police.

"Violence against the police has radicalized itself, with a quasi-systematic use of firearms," Douhane told ABC News.

"This is a new development, compared to the riots of two years ago. In 2005, there were two shots fired at the police, but that was after several weeks of violence; 77 policemen were wounded last night, while in 2005, during three weeks of violence, a total of 126 policemen and gendarmes were wounded."

Monday youths built improvised barricades out of trash cans and rubble. Eyewitnesses described the rioters as organized and disciplined.

Sebastian Roché, a sociologist and author at think-tank CNRS, agreed. He told ABC News that "the rioters have learned from 2005. They use garbage covers as shields. Some are very determined, and are prepared to use weapons that can kill. The violence has reached a new level."

Monday night one youth was seen with a two-way radio tuned in to a police frequency.

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