In Brief

Saint Denis: Students in custody after riot at Paris school

Dozens of pupils set fire to bins and threw stones at police during rampage in troubled suburb

French Police

More than 50 sixth form pupils were taken into custody by Paris police following a student-led riot in the northern suburb of Saint Denis, one of the French capital's most deprived areas.

Pupils were evacuated from the Lycee Suger, the French equivalent of a sixth form college, on Tuesday morning after three smoke bombs were set off inside the school that morning.

Between 80 and 100 teenagers then left the school grounds and took to the streets, setting rubbish bins on fire, vandalising property and throwing stones at police during the rampage, Le Figaro reports.

Police officers used tear gas to subdue the rioters and took 55 people, most of them students at the school, into custody. Eight people have been charged. They will appear before a youth magistrate today.

Saint Denis is familiar across the world as the home of France's national football and rugby stadium, the Stade de France, but the former industrial zone struggles with poverty and lawlessness.

The latest disorder in the area, home to many second and third generation immigrants from former French colonies in North Africa, "prompted the far-right Front National to claim that the government had lost control in suburbs around France", says the Daily Telegraph.

The party's leader Marine Le Pen said the "stupefying violence" by "thugs threatens the future of our country".

Tensions have apparently been brewing for some time at the school, which Le Figaro describes as "difficult". The day before the rampage, pieces of concrete breeze block were thrown at a staff room window, breaking the glass and narrowly missing a teacher.

That evening, Snapchat messages allegedly circulated among students discussing a plan to attack the school with Molotov cocktails. One teacher told Le Parisien that on Tuesday morning her classroom was "half empty".

The French press has reported that some messages exchanged by pupils used the hashtag "#blocuspourTheo" (#blockadeforTheo), suggesting that the violence could be connected to the police brutality allegations made by a 22-year-old man known as Theo L. He claimed he was violated with a police baton while being arrested last month in Saint Denis, around seven miles from the Lycee Suger.

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