PARIS: Rowdy revellers in France torched 425 vehicles overnight in scattered New Year’s unrest that has become an annual problem in troubled neighborhoods, but there were no major clashes, the national police chief said Sunday. Last year, 333 cars were burned. Police had been particularly vigilant this year because of the three weeks of rioting and arson that broke out in October. But Police Chief Michel Gaudin said there were no major incidents this year between youths and police, and no seriously destructive arson attacks targeting buildings. “Some people were worried that the period of urban violence would be relaunched” during New Year’s festivities, Gaudin told reporters. “I think, happily, that it wasn’t the case.” Police took 362 people into custody, up from 272 last year. Among police, 27 officers were injured on the job – 15 of them hurt during what police described as a minor scuffle near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. A state of emergency imposed during the rioting is still in effect, and 25,000 police were on alert for the holiday. France’s opposition Socialists accused the conservative government of trying to put a positive spin on the night’s events, pointing out that this New Year’s Eve was the most destructive ever in terms of damage to cars, and the most widespread. “Despite the ineffective exceptional measures, calm and tranquillity have unfortunately not been restored, and the urban violence continues”, the Socialist Party said in a statement. Car burnings have become a barometer of unrest in France. In other incidents, a small fire broke out at a school in Toulouse, in southwest France, and was quickly put out, local authorities said. In Nice on the French Riviera, fire fighters were pelted with stones when they responded to an anonymous phone alert, officials said. In the nearby Var department of southern France, youths also threw rocks at fire fighters in a troubled neighbourhood of La-Seine-sur-Mer, local authorities said. Outside Paris in the suburb of Argenteuil, a small fire was reported at a cultural centre. A wave of rioting broke out on October 27 in a poor Paris suburb after two youths who believed police were chasing them hid in a power substation and died of electrocution. The unrest spread throughout the country in impoverished suburban housing projects that are home to many immigrants from North and West Africa and their French-born children. At the peak, youths incinerated 1,408 vehicles in a single night. President Jacques Chirac spoke of the unrest during his annual New Year’s Eve television address and urged the French to do more to fight racism and a lack of opportunities in poor neighbourhoods – problems that fed frustrations among young rioters.