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France race attacks

Lille (France), Oct. 5 (Reuters): Two teenagers of North African origin have been killed in France and three other youths wounded in violence that shocked the nation and drew a vigorous denunciation from Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

Shouting “Watch out! I’ll kill you all!”, a masked gunman shot dead a 17-year-old boy of North African origin and wounded three youths in two apparently racist attacks in the northern port of Dunkirk on last evening, police said today.

In a separate attack that did not appear to be racially motivated, a 17-year-old girl of North African origin was burned alive yesterday in a Paris suburb, apparently by violent youths who haunt the bleak, low-cost housing projects there.

Raffarin denounced the attacks, saying: “This is a killing inspired by racism and intolerance. France cannot put up with this.”

Speaking during a visit to the Grand Mosque in Paris, interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy observed a minute of silence with his Muslim audience — most of them also of North African Arab origin — and vowed to fight racism vigorously.

“Racism is a cancer we must stamp out in our society,” he said. “Racism will be fought with all our energy. We will track down racists and punish them severely. Racism is the enemy of the republic.”

In the first attack in Dunkirk, the gunman fired a single rifle shot from his car through a cafe window, then shot at the crowd that ran out in panic, police said. Two of the three wounded youths were of North African origin. An hour later, a gunman believed to be the same assailant turned up at another cafe and fired at a group of teenagers, killing the 17-year-old boy, police said.

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