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Police battle rioters in deprived Toulouse suburb

The Local, Apr 17

Angry youths in Mirail, Toulouse have attacked police, torched cars and set fire to garbage during two nights of clashes that have led to 18 arrests, police said Tuesday.

The rioting in the Mirail area of the city, a high-crime neighbourhood once home to several jihadists, was apparently sparked by the death of a local man in prison and an identity check by police on a veiled woman on Sunday.

After nearly four hours of clashes on Sunday night that saw gangs throw stones at the local police station and set fire to about 10 cars, violence flared again on Monday night.

"Security forces were targeted throughout the night and carried out 18 arrests for violence, arson and insults," a statement from top local security official Pascal Mailhos said.

Anger in the area appeared to have been fuelled by the death of a local man in the nearby Seysses prison on Saturday which led to rumours that guards were responsible.

A judicial investigation is underway, local prosecutors said, adding that an autopsy had found that suicide was the cause of the death.

Local police chief Arnaud Bavois said that an identity check on a fully veiled woman on Sunday exacerbated the tensions after she refused to show her papers to officers.

The Mirail area of Toulouse, whose high-rise social housing projects are known areas for drug-dealing and delinquency, is a troublespot that has been designated a priority area by the police.

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