PARIS, AP -The number of cars torched overnight in France climbed slightly over the previous night to 502 in a 16th night of unrest that took its heaviest toll on the French provinces, police said Saturday.
Security was boosted in the capital with some 3,000 police officers fanning out around strategic points to counter feared weekend attacks targeting Paris. Gatherings were banned from Saturday morning until Sunday morning.
"We returned to an almost normal situation in Ile de France," said national police chief Michel Gaudin, referring to the Paris region. Arson attacks were counted in 163 towns around France, he said. The count of those detained overnight stood at 206, bringing to 2,440 the number of suspects picked up in just over two weeks of unrest.
Two Molotov cocktails were tossed at a mosque Friday evening in the southern town of Carpentras, but it was not immediately clear whether the attack was linked to the unrest that has wracked the poor suburbs and small towns of France since Oct. 27. President Jacques Chirac demanded that investigators quickly find out who was behind the attack.