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‘Small gang of imbeciles’: French PM tries to downplay attack on police as govt accused of failing to enforce order

‘Small gang of imbeciles’: French PM tries to downplay attack on police as govt accused of failing to enforce order
French authorities will make the ‘irresponsible fools’ who set fire to a circus, and attacked police outside Paris at the weekend, respect the law, PM Edouard Philippe has vowed. But it seems that not many believe him.

On Saturday, a large tent belonging to a local circus troupe was set on fire in the Chanteloup-les-Vignes commune 27 kilometers (17 miles) north-west of the French capital. When police and firefighters arrived at the scene they were ambushed by a group of about 30 aggressive youths. The area quickly turned into some sort of 'battlefield' as police officers were targeted with stones, firecrackers, and Molotov cocktails.

Two officers were wounded in the clashes and police detained only two of the attackers, according to local media. The cost of the damage caused during the outbreak of violence is reportedly about 3 million euros.

“We obviously deplore these foolish and violent acts,” Philippe said on Monday. He insisted that the clashes were instigated by a “small gang of imbeciles… who think that breaking everything is the way to go.”

The violence was was a response by criminals to anti-drug measures implemented by police in the area, the head of the government pointed out. “We are determined to ensure that trafficking ceases and that order is restored and respected.”

However, not everybody was convinced that Chanteloup-les-Vignes was an isolated incident, saying that the scale of the problem of the so-called “urban guerillas” was far greater than the government was admitting. Critics insist the state had almost no control over ghettos in various parts of the country where the drug trade and extremist ideology strives, while the police endanger their lives every time they enter those districts.

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The government has turned a blind eye to the danger posed by lawless neighborhoods, Marine Le Pen, head of the National Rally party, said. She slammed Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and his associates for being “incompetent.”

“Where are the state and the authority [President] Emmanuel Macron?” National Rally spokesman Julien Sanchez added, sounding the alarm over the increased number of attacks against police.

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Other National Rally members described Chanteloup-les-Vignes and other similar areas as “our lost territories.”

“The scenes of urban war are multiplying,” Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, leader of the Debout la France party wrote.

The Government is unable to enforce order.

Last month, more than 20,000 police officers took to the streets in Paris to protest against proposed pension reforms which could deprive them of bonuses. They were also protesting against being overworked due to the weekly Yellow Vest protests and France being in a state of emergency since the November 2015 terrorist attacks. Officers claim their work is now more dangerous with the number of assaults against them increasing 15% in 2019.

October was also marred by a brazen knife attack which took place inside police headquarters in Paris. A police staffer killed four officers with a ceramic knife, which he had smuggled undetected through metal detectors, before being shot dead.

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