3 September 2012
A French senator has called for the army to be brought in to restore order in France's second city Marseille after two people were killed in a battle over drugs. The latest victim is the nineteenth so far this year and most of the shootings are carried out with machine guns.
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France's second city is in the grip of a violent turf war over drugs. It's not new but it's getting worse all the time. 19 people have now been killed in the Marseille region this year alone, two this week. The police say nearly all the killings are carried out by rival drug dealers on the gritty housing estates in the north of the city, using machine guns from eastern Europe bought on the black market.
While the government quickly ruled out sending in the military, the prime minister has announced an urgent meeting will be held next week to examine the situation in France's second-biggest city.
The illegal drug trade used to be run by the Marseille and Corsican underworld. However, the authorities say they have now been replaced by far more ruthless and reckless French youths of North African origin who see drugs as a quick route out of poverty.
With drug dealing the biggest single employer on many housing estates, the police say no matter how many people are arrested there are always youths ready to fill the vacuum.
Click to hear the vocabulary
- in the grip of
- turf war
battle for control over territory or rights
- black market
the illegal trade of goods
- ruled out