PARIS - Thirty-three people were in custody after more than 1,000 French police personnel swept through a Paris suburb looking for leaders of last year's riots.
The predawn raids Monday were called a "security spectacle" by political opponents of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who claim he was trying to bolster his party's chances ahead of local elections next month, The Guardian reported Tuesday.
The sweep occurred in Villiers-le-Bel and surrounding neighborhoods where rioting occurred over three nights last November, the British newspaper said. The unrest was triggered by the deaths of two teenagers riding a motorbike that collided with a police car.
Labor Minister Xavier Bertrand called the apprehension of the suspects evidence that "there is no zone of lawlessness in our republic." Socialist Segolene Royal countered that allowing camera coverage of raids during the run-up to the elections showed they were meant "to influence opinion, to scare."
© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.