874 cars burned in French New Year’s celebrations, down from pre-pandemic

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Jan. 1 (UPI) — A total of 874 cars were set on fire throughout France amid New Year’s Eve celebrations, a reduction from pre-pandemic numbers, the French Interior Ministry said Saturday.

The 874 vehicles burned in observance of a decades-old tradition was down from 1,316 set ablaze in 2019 as the interior ministry said 2020 numbers were not comparable because of a curfew enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin praised law enforcement and fire crews for keeping the fires in check.

Darmanin said police carried out 441 arrests, up from 376 in 2019 and placed 381 people in custody an increase from 314 in 2019.

In the northern city of Strasbourg, 31 people were taken in for questioning after setting fire to trash cans and vehicles, CNN reported.

Among those questioned were six minors who broke curfew while the rest were questioned for alleged arson, authorities said. Police added that four officers also sustained injuries.

In the central department of Yonne, authorities said a party of 1,500 people was underway, violating COVID-19 restrictions.

Police were sent to the scene and an investigation was opened for “illegal organization of a festive musical gathering.”

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