Immigrant deaths in Paris under suspect

Last night a fire engulfed a Paris apartment building, killing seven people. This blaze occurred only days after another building fire killing 12 people. This is also the third fire to occur in five months. All three buildings were occupied by African immigrants and observers noted that they were living in deplorable conditions.

French President Jacques Chirac expressed sadness at the latest fire and ordered an inquiry. However the blame is already coming down on the French government for not improving living situation long before the blazes.

"This is the fault of the housing minister," said Niakate Gagni, a 50-year-old Malian to the BBC whose family members died in the Friday blaze. "I think they are doing this on purpose, because there are flats available elsewhere."

A very angry 20-year-old Senegalese woman expressed her disgust at the way Africans are treated in France.

"I knew many children from this building," she said to the BBC on Friday. "It is very painful, it is revolting - it is actually worse than the previous fire in April. It is just revolting.

The Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, told the BBC it was known that the building was in a very bad condition.

"It's a very painful situation - it's again about death and families that have been destroyed," he said.

Members of the African community took to the streets over the weekend, urging the authorities to provide better housing for immigrants. They were joined by left-wing activists and pressure groups who accused French leaders of neglect.


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