France looks to be edging closer to a civil war with its sizeable Arab and African populations.
Already it would appear that whole suburbs are no longer under the governments control.
Paris rioting enters second week
The unrest has been spreading
See the aftermath
More cars and shops have been set alight in Paris’ suburbs, as youths rioted for an eighth consecutive night.
Most of the attacks again took place in the largely immigrant area of Seine-Saint-Denis, where about 1,300 police had been deployed.
The violence, which has engulfed a dozen towns around the capital in the past week, was triggered by the deaths of two teenagers of African origin.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has pledged to restore order.
Map of main flashpoints
He was speaking in parliament, following criticism at the government’s failure to end the violence.
Thursday night’s incidents occurred in several towns to the north-east and north-west of the capital, including Aulnay-sous-Bois.
As on previous nights, gangs of youths armed with bricks and sticks have been roaming the streets of housing estates.
Nicolas Sarkozy has come under fire for his handling of the unrest
At least 50 of cars and several warehouses were set ablaze, and there were attacks on a school and a bus.
Shots were also reportedly fired at riot police - it was not immediately known if there were any injuries.
On Thursday, the violence also spread beyond the Paris region for the first time, with reports of cars on fire in the central town of Dijon.
The unrest began after teenagers Bouna Traore, aged 15, and Zyed Benna, 17, were accidentally electrocuted at an electricity sub-station in Clichy-sous-Bois.
Local people say they were fleeing police - a claim the authorities deny.
A criminal investigation and an internal police inquiry have been opened.
Mr de Villepin said restoring order was his “absolute priority”.
In scenes of escalating unrest overnight on Wednesday, shots were fired at police and firefighters, while gangs besieged a police station, set fire to a car showroom and threw petrol bombs. At least 177 cars were also set alight.
Deaths that set off unrest
Send us your reaction
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who earlier met the dead teenagers’ families, said the violence was “not spontaneous” but rather “well organised”.
He said the government would not allow “troublemakers, a bunch of hoodlums, think they can do whatever they want”.
On Thursday afternoon, Mr de Villepin held talks with Mr Sarkozy, other ministers, as well as MPs and mayors from affected towns.
The areas affected are poor, largely immigrant communities with high levels of unemployment.
Minister for Social Cohesion Jean-Louis Borloo said the government had to react “firmly”, but added that France must also acknowledge its failure to deal with anger simmering in poor suburbs for decades.
Muslim leaders have urged politicians to show respect for immigrant communities.
Dalil Boubakeur, the head of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, said people in the suburbs “must be given the conditions to live with dignity as human beings”, not in “disgraceful squats”.
Clichy-sous-Bois: Two teenagers die in electricity sub-station on 27 October. Successive nights of rioting follow rumours they were fleeing by police. A number of people arrested or injured.
Aulnay-sous-Bois: A flashpoint after violence spread from Clichy. Shots fired at police and cars and shops set ablaze. Further trouble in eight nearby suburbs, with more shots fired at police.
Others: Police report incidents involving gangs of youths in town in the suburban departments of the Val-d’Oise, Seine-et-Marne and Yvelines. Reports of petrol bombs thrown at a police station in the Hauts-de-Seine.