PARIS (Reuters) – Gunmen killed three people at the Kurdish cultural center in central Paris and a nearby Kurdish cafe on Friday.
President Emmanuel Macron said the Kurdish community in France had been targeted in a vicious attack. French Interior Minister Gerard Dalmanin said the suspect clearly wanted to target foreigners.
Around noon, multiple gunshots were fired on Rue d’Enghien, causing panic in a street lined with small shops and cafes in the busy 10th arrondissement of the French capital.
A lawyer for the Kurdish Cultural Center told Reuters news agency that all three of the dead were Kurds. Three of his others were wounded, one of whom had life-threatening injuries.
Riot police fired tear gas and attempted to drive back an angry crowd that had gathered a short distance from the scene of the shooting as darkness loomed. Projectiles were thrown at police officers, overturned trash cans and restaurant tables, and damaged cars.
Authorities said they had arrested a 69-year-old man. The man was recently released from custody after he was awaiting trial in an incident in which he attacked a migrant camp in Paris with a saber a year ago, said Paris prosecutor Rolle Beckau. He was convicted in June of his 2016 assault with a weapon and was on appeal.
Reuters was unable to immediately contact the suspect’s legal representative.
Images broadcast on a French news network on Friday showed a white man of French nationality wearing a gray top and scruffy white sneakers being removed from the scene, his hands on his back. He was handcuffed behind his back.
Eyewitness Mehmet Dilek told Reuters that he cried inside a barber shop opposite the cultural center after hearing the first shots. Bystanders subdued the gunman as he reloaded, he added.
“It may come as a shock to someone who has never worried in their life. But we grew up under the threat of weapons and bombs. This is how we Kurds live,” he continued. .
District mayor Alexandra Cordebaldo told reporters that the shooting was a “horrible drama”. One of her injured had a life-threatening injury to her, she said.
Kurdish leaders have called for better protection of their communities, a theme for French Kurds since the murder of three Kurdish women a decade ago.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted: “Kurds should be able to live in peace and security wherever they live. “More than ever, Paris is with them in these dark times.”
Julien Verplancke, who works at Chez Minna, another local restaurant, said staff at the Kurdish restaurant came out crying after the shooting.
Hours later, armed police were still guarding the perimeter as investigators combed the scene.
A murder, manslaughter and aggravated violence investigation was launched.
Salih Azad, a prominent figure in the Kurdish community in Marseille, said he knew one of the victims. She is a 26-year-old woman who has lived in Paris for several years.
“She was well integrated socially and culturally,” he said.
Reporting by Juliette Jabkhiro, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Caroline Pailliez, Tassilo Hummel. By Richard Ruff.Edited by Toby Chopra, Peter Graf and Alexander Smith
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Leave a Comment