AULNAY-SOUS-BOIS, France - Rioters set fire to hundreds of vehicles in impoverished suburbs of northeastern Paris in an eighth night of unrest that spread for the first time to other parts of the capital and other towns in France.
Local officials said they had lost patience with the government. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin met his rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, but kept a low profile after days of government squabbling over how to handle the crisis.
Police reported fewer clashes than previous nights and residents said the Eid al-Fitr holiday ending Ramadan may have calmed areas with large populations of Muslims of North African and black African origin.
But the rioting spread, with some attacks reported in western Paris suburbs - including the torching of 23 buses at a depot - and a few cars firebombed around Rouen in northern France, Dijon in the east and Marseille in the south.
The pattern of violence also changed, shifting from crowds clashing with police to targeted arson attacks, many against businesses and warehouses.
"I've had enough of this," said an angry woman wearing a headscarf in Aulnay-sous-Bois, a northeastern Paris suburb where a large warehouse was burnt down overnight. "This must stop quickly. It's just not right."
Rioting among young men of North African and black African origin - mostly locally born citizens who feel cheated by France's official promises of liberty, equality and fraternity - began last week after two teenagers of African origin died while fleeing the police.
Lack of economic opportunity for youths in the worst affected areas is reflected in unemployment levels well above the national average.
Mayors from the riot-hit areas were also exasperated after Villepin briefed them on Thursday evening about an "action plan for the suburbs" he aims to present later this month.
"Many of us told him this isn't the time for an umpteenth plan," said Jean-Christophe Lagarde, mayor of Drancy. "All we need is one death and I think it will get out of control."
Justice Minister Pascal Clement was visibly shaken after being briefed about a handicapped woman in her 50s who was badly burnt on Wednesday evening when rioters poured petrol on a city bus she was riding in and set it ablaze.
"This is immense violence," he told reporters in Bobigny, another town in the Seine Saint Denis department between central Paris and Charles de Gaulle airport that has been the worst hit. "I think all French are shocked to see things like this."
With the violence making headlines around the world, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei complained about foreign coverage of the riots -- without naming any media -- and said foreign tourists were not in danger.
"One is sometimes surprised at the international coverage of these events," he told reporters. "These are very serious incidents ... but we are very far from such a serious situation as some commentaries or television reports lead one to think."
Officials in Seine Saint Denis said 187 vehicles had been destroyed there overnight. French media said up to 600 vehicles were destroyed in the whole greater Paris region, including 23 buses at a terminal in Trappes in the southwest near Versailles.
Police detained 27 people and reported two injuries. They said a total of 1,260 vehicles had been destroyed in the greater Paris region since riots began last week, with more than half torched in Seine Saint Denis alone.
Security officials said the presence of hundreds of riot police had acted as a deterrent, but rioters nevertheless set fire to two textile warehouses, a bus depot and a school.
"Why a school, why a car? What can you say about such blind violence?" said one local mayor, Michel Beaumale.
FEAR VIOLENCE WILL SPREAD
Villepin spent Friday out of public view in his Matignon offices. Mayors who criticised him expressed concern the rioting could spread to other cities with similar suburbs that keep the poor far from rich city centres.
Manuel Valls, mayor of Evry south of the capital, said: "We're afraid that what's happening in Seine Saint Denis will spread. We have to give these people a message of hope."
Sarkozy, who sparked controversy earlier this week by dubbing protesting youth "scum", denounced the rioters but adopted a less strident tone.
"I am well aware that it will take some time to resolve these problems of the suburbs which have been left untouched for 30 years," he said during a visit to the Alpes-Maritime region.
Villepin and Sarkozy, whose bitter political rivalry has overshadowed the government's reaction, teamed up on Thursday to announce that restoring order was their "absolute priority".
Villepin blamed the riots on gangs he said terrorised residents and sought to keep police out of their districts, and vowed law and order would be restored.
In several interviews on Friday morning, conservative politicians said drug traffickers and Islamist militants were fanning the unrest, although they gave no details.