Despite Lockdown: France Rocked by Four Straight Nights of Riots

Firefighters work to put out a fire in a car in the Malakoff neighborhood of Nantes early

Riots erupted across France for the fourth night in a row, spreading to cities and towns with cars set on fire and mobs of locals attacking police and firefighters despite the Wuhan coronavirus lockdown measures.

The riots began on Sunday following an incident between a local on a motorcycle and police in the Paris suburb of Villeneuve-la-Garenne. They have spread to even more areas with violence continuing to increase.

In Clichy-la-Garenne, five people aged 18 to 21 were arrested Wednesday night in connection with the riots and for “possession of incendiary devices and participation in a group with a view to committing violence,” Le Figaro reports.

A total of thirteen people were arrested overall on Wednesday night with the newspaper claiming that incidents were of a “lesser intensity” than the night before.

In the department of Yvelines, which has seen attacks on police nearly every day for at least two weeks, Wednesday night saw a number of violent incidents including attacks on police that were reported in Trappes and Chanteloup-les-Vignes shortly before 10 pm.

At 10:30 pm a mob of thirty locals attacked police in Trappes after placing garbage cans on the road to block officers from escaping the area.

An hour later in Poissy, police were attacked with fireworks from the balconies of residential buildings and a group of twenty or so youths attempted to charge police while others opened fire with incendiary devices a short time afterwards. Two people, a 17-year old and a 20-year-old were arrested during these incidents.

The night also saw two incidents of attacks on firefighters in Les Mureaux and La Verrière including the use of Molotov cocktails against the firefighters. The previous night saw around a dozen local youths attacking police in Mantes-la-Jolie, forcing the officers to use stun grenades to disperse the mob.

Police were also set upon with projectiles in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, Chanteloup-les-Vignes, and Trappes where officers were hit with fireworks launched from nearby apartment buildings.

On Tuesday night, there also were clashes between locals and the police along with cars set on fire and garbage cans lit ablaze in Villeneuve-la-Garenne.

Similar incidents were also reported in Nanterre, Hauts-de-Seine, Aulnay-sous-Bois, and Montreuil in Seine-Saint-Denis, franceinfo reports.

The most serious incident of the night took place in the commune of Gennevilliers in Hauts-de-Seine and saw locals set the Paul-Langevin elementary school on fire.

The blaze started in the principal’s office and spread to two classrooms and the staff room before firefighters managed to put out the fire.

Attempts were made the night before in Strasbourg to set a building on fire that contained a police station.

Versailles saw police lured into an ambush by local youths who had set garbage on fire in the street. Officers were attacked with fireworks and other projectiles when they arrived on the scene. Sources told Le Parisien that a car was also set on fire during the incident.

The command room of the prefecture of police in the Ile-de-France region, which contains both Paris and its surrounding suburbs, later advised officers not to engage with locals. They said: “Following the recent phenomena of urban violence on the whole of the Paris region, the workforce is advised to take caution when out on public roads.”

“Contact with disturbers should be avoided on non-hazardous or fire-related interventions to avoid injury to officers,” the police headquarters added.

François Bersani of the police union SGP called the command centre’s instructions “scandalous”, and said: “The command centre of the prefecture of police instructs [officers] not to come into contact with disturbers who are none other than delinquents who burn street furniture or attack the police.”

Violent incidents were also reported in the cities of Toulouse, Lille, Grenoble, and several other towns and cities.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.