Paris shooting: Protesters clash with police after deadly attack on Kurdish community

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Protesters stand behind flames during clashes following a demonstration a day after a gunman opened fire at a Kurdish cultural centre killing three people, at The Place de la Republique in Paris on 24 December 2022 (AFP)

Hundreds of people rally in central Paris to demand answers for the deadly shooting by a gunman who described himself as a ‘racist’

Protesters clashed with French police on Saturday following a deadly attack in which a gunman, who called himself a “racist”, killed three Kurds on Friday.

Hundreds of people, mostly members of France’s Kurdish community, rallied in central Paris to demand answers for the attack that targeted a Kurdish cultural centre and a hairdressing salon. 

Footage from the demonstrations showed protestors throwing projectiles at police who responded by firing tear gas canisters.

Several cars were overturned and at least one was set on fire with protesters erecting barricades on the streets.

“We are not being protected at all. In 10 years, six Kurdish activists have been killed in the heart of Paris in broad daylight,” Berivan Firat, a spokesperson for the Kurdish democratic council in France, told a local TV station.

Initially, the protesters had started peacefully, chanting  the name of Abdullah Ocalan, among other slogans, and holding flags associated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) group.

Ocalan, the 74-year-old head of the PKK, has been serving a life sentence on Imrali Island off the coast of Istanbul since his capture in 1999.

Turkey, the EU and the US designate PKK as a terror group due to its attacks on civilian targets since the 1990s.

‘Racist’ motives

The gunman who carried out the Friday attack was known to the authorities for committing armed racist violence in the past. He was swiftly arrested by police.

The retired train driver was described by police sources as “Caucasian” and of French nationality.

He told investigators he was racist, a source close to the case said on Saturday, according to AFP, adding that a racial motive had been added to the list of charges.

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He is already being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, armed violence and violating weapons legislation. 

The 69-year-old man was known for two previous attempted murders in 2016 and 2021.

He was suspected of attacking at least two migrants with a knife in a Paris camp on 8 December 2021, AFP reported Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau as saying.

He was subsequently charged with premeditated armed violence with a racist motive and placed in detention, the prosecutor said, adding that the man had been released only recently.

She said the question of whether Friday’s attack was motivated by racism “will obviously form part of our investigations which are starting now with the deployment of large numbers of people”.

Mathilde Panot, parliamentary head of the hard-left France Unbowed political party, immediately pointed the finger at the far-right, and called it a “racist attack”.

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Disclaimer: Paris shooting: Protesters clash with police after deadly attack on Kurdish community - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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