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The violence has escalated from an outburst of anger in suburban Paris housing projects into a nationwide show of disdain for French authority from youths and minorities, most French-born children of Arab and black Africans angered by years of unequal opportunities. Youths set ablaze nearly 1,300 vehicles and torched businesses, schools and symbols of French authority, including post offices and provincial police stations, late Saturday and early Sunday. The violence reached the well-guarded French capital Saturday night. Police said 35 cars were torched, most on the city’s northern and southern edges. In the city center, gasoline bombs damaged three cars near Place de la Republique. Residents reported a loud explosion and flames. “We were very afraid,” said Annie Partouche, 55, who watched the cars burning from her apartment window. “We were afraid to leave the building.” In Evreux, 60 miles west of Paris, five police officers and three firefighters were injured in clashes with youths who destroyed at least 50 vehicles, shops and businesses, a post office and two schools, authorities said. “Rioters attacked us with baseball bats,” Philippe Jofres, a deputy fire chief, told France-2 television. “We were attacked with pick axes. It was war.” About 50 cars were burned late Sunday in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris, where the violence first broke out. Arsonists burned a school and a bus in the central city of Saint-Etienne, and transport workers went on strike. Much of the youths’ anger has focused on law-and-order Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who inflamed passions by referring to troublemakers as “scum.” In Strasbourg, youths stole a car and rammed it into a housing project, setting the vehicle and the building on fire. “We’ll stop when Sarkozy steps down,” said the defiant 17-year-old driver, identifying himself as Murat. He and several others were in police custody as smoke poured from the windows of the housing project behind them. Arsonists burned 1,295 vehicles nationwide overnight Saturday, national police spokesman Patrick Hamon said, adding that police made 349 arrests. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PARIS – President Jacques Chirac promised Sunday to restore public order across France as unrest spread from suburban Paris to cities south and north, with rioters battling police, throwing Molotov cocktails and ramming a car into a housing project during an 11th night of mayhem. About 10 police officers were injured, including two seriously, during clashes with hundreds of youths in Grigny in the Essonne region south of the capital, the Interior Ministry said. Officials believe rioters may have fired with a hunting rifle. Across the country, rioters pelted Molotov cocktails at cars and a school, and firefighters in some areas worked under police escort. New unrest was reported in Toulouse in the southwest and Rennes in the northwest. Chirac spoke after a security meeting of his top ministers. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “The law must have the last word,” Chirac said in his first public address on the violence. France is determined “to be stronger than those who want to sow violence or fear, and they will be arrested, judged and punished.” Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin promised speedy trials for rioters and extra security where it was needed. Chirac said France was determined to promote “respect for all, justice and equal opportunities.” Violence has been concentrated in poor suburbs with large immigrant populations. “But there is a precondition, a priority, I repeat,” he said. “That is the restoring of security and public order.” The French president had faced criticism from opposition politicians for not publicly speaking about France’s worst civil unrest in more than a decade. His only previous comments came through a spokesman.