Hundreds of cars were set on fire across French cities on New Year’s Eve, with some cities seeing an even larger number of cars burned than the previous year.
Police arrested at least 400 people across France on New Year’s Eve, according to the French Interior Ministry. A total of 100,000 police were deployed, with one source claiming that the level of violence on the night was relatively calm compared to previous years, Le Parisien reports.
Although the general violence was allegedly less than previous years, a 27-year-old man in Haguenau was killed in an accident involving fireworks.
Car burnings have become common across France over New Year’s Eve in recent years, with at least 220 cars set on fire in the city of Strasbourg alone. The city also saw two incidents in which firefighters were ambushed and attacked.
Pendant que les Français fêtaient tranquillement la nouvelle année, la racaille n’a pas pu s’empêcher d’honorer « ses » traditions.
Voitures brûlées, jets de projectiles sur pompiers et policiers : des scènes de chaos cette nuit à #Strasbourg ! pic.twitter.com/ixSDrTI0bT
— Nicolas Bay (@NicolasBay_) January 1, 2020
Thierry Carbiener, president of the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service, said that the firefighters were attacked by youths armed with iron bars and metal ladders describing them as “ultra-violent, in organised bands”.
“We are dealing with very mobile groups that light fires for the sole purpose of seeing the firefighters and the police arrive and confront them. We have reached a milestone: they no longer target vehicles but men. They act to hurt them,” he added. Around 40 people were arrested in Strasbourg during the night.
In Besançon, 127 cars were set on fire and a 100 other cars damaged during the night along with a major fire at an underground car park in an industrial area that took 140 firefighters hours to get under control.
France was not the only country to see a large number of arrests and cars burned over New Year’s Eve. In neighbouring Belgium, the city of Brussels saw 180 people arrested and around a dozen vehicles burned.
The arrests come after Brussels police announced they would be escorting all firefighters during New Year’s Eve due to attacks on emergency services personnel in previous years.