Clashes erupted in Paris following a deadly shooting attack that killed three people and injured several more at a Kurdish cultural centre around noon on Friday, as members of the Kurdish community in the French capital demanded justice.
The shooting took place on Rue d’Enghien, a street in the French capital's 10th arrondissement, with witnesses reportedly hearing seven to eight gunshots. The three deadly victims are all Kurds.
The prosecutor's office is investigating whether the suspected perpetrator had racist motives, but according to the mayor of the district, shots were fired at a Kurdish centre, a restaurant and a hair salon. The suspect, a 69-year-old retired train driver, has been arrested.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted his condemnation of the attack on Friday evening. "The Kurds of France were the target of a heinous attack in the heart of Paris. Our thoughts are with the victims, the people who are struggling to live, their families and loved ones. Gratitude to our police for their courage and composure."
The French Interior Minister Gérald Darmani claimed the attack was clearly aimed at "foreigners," while announcing increased security measures. He added that the only thing that is "not certain" is whether the man intended to kill "Kurds in particular."
There was great unrest around Darmanin's visit to the scene, local media report. Clashes ensued between Kurdish protesters and security forces, who were pelted with objects and then used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, stated on Twitter that the Kurdish community was attacked by a far-right activist. "Kurds, wherever they are, must be able to live in peace and security," she said on Twitter. "More than ever, Paris is on their side in these dark times."
Members of the Kurdish community in Paris said they had been recently warned by police of threats to Kurdish targets. Now, because of the violence, France will step up security at places where the community meets.
The suspect was previously also under investigation for at least one other crime with a racist motive. Police believe he acted alone, and told AFP News Agency that the man has a criminal record of two attempted homicides, in 2016 and in 2021. The Paris Prosecutor's Office has opened an investigation for murder, intentional homicide and aggravated assault.
French prosecutors also report that the man attacked a migrant camp in the 12th arrondissement with a sabre on 8 December 2021. He was then also under investigation for a racially motivated crime and was reportedly held in pre-trial detention for a year, a source close to the investigation told French newspaper Le Monde.
However, the suspect was released not even two weeks ago, on 12 December, under certain conditions pending his trial, Le Monde reported. He was not allowed to leave the territory or carry a weapon, among other conditions.