Vandals in France torched 945 parked cars on New Year’s Eve in an arson rampage that has become a sinister annual “tradition” amid a row over whether the government sought to play down the figures.
According to the French interior ministry, the total of 945, which included cars that were either “totally destroyed” or “more lightly affected”, amounted to a 17 per cent rise compared to last year.
Despite this, New Year’s Eve “went off without any major incident”, the interior ministry insisted in a statement, adding that there were only “a few troubles with public order”.
The custom of setting vehicles alight on New Year’s Eve is said to have kicked off around Strasbourg, eastern France in the 1990s, in the the city’s deprived, high-immigrant districts.
It quickly caught on among disaffected youths in cities across the country, and is seen by some as a litmus test of general social unrest.