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Amiens riots thrust 'left-wing Sarkozy' into spotlight
by Rachel Holman
Although an uneasy calm has settled over France's northern city of Amiens after rioting erupted there earlier this week, the violence has thrust the country's Interior Minister Manuel Valls into the spotlight as he deals with the first major incident of civil unrest since French President François Hollande's Socialist government came into power three months ago.
The riots in Amiens' northern neighbourhoods left an extensive trail of damage. A number of buildings, including a nursery school, were left in ruins, and the charred remains of burnt-out cars littered the streets. Rioters also clashed with police forces, pelting them with objects and even firing shotgun pellets. Seventeen police officers were injured in the fray, one of whom was said to be in critical condition.
Tensions had scarcely eased by the time Valls arrived in Amiens the next day to take stock of the situation. The interior minister was swarmed by an angry crowd of around a hundred people as he tried to enter city hall. Valls later spoke out against the riots, saying "there is no excuse for shooting at the police, for shooting at law enforcement officers or burning public property… Republican law, order and justice must all find a place again here, in Amiens."
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