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Paris: Kurds protest after deadly shooting

December 24, 2022

The killing of three people in a shooting targeting a Kurdish cultural center has sparked outrage among France's Kurdish community. Police reportedly fired tear gas after clashes with protesters.

Overturned vehicles on the streets of Paris
Paris police chief said the violence was perpetrated by a few dozens of protestersImage: Sarah Meyssonnier/REUTERS

Thousands of Kurdish activists and anti-racism groups protested in the French capital on Saturday to demand answers following the killing of three Kurds in a shooting in central Paris

The shooting at a Kurdish cultural center shocked the community as it was preparing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the killings of three Kurdish women in Paris.

Saturday's march started out largely peaceful, but scuffles then broke out between groups of protesters and the police in a repeat of the violence that occurred Friday immediate after the shooting.

In the latest incident, demonstrators clashed with police near Paris' Place de la Republique, cars were overturned, at least one vehicle was torched, and shop windows were damaged.

Paris police chief Laurent Nunez told BFM TV that a few dozen protesters were responsible for the violence, adding there had been 11 arrests and around 30 minor injuries.

Possible racist motive

Police arrested the suspected gunman shortly after Friday's shooting.

The 69-year-old man was charged last year with racist violence.

He was held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, armed violence and violating weapons legislation.

On Saturday, prosecutors said they had extended his detention and added a new charge of acting with a "racist motive"

But later in the day, authorities said questioning had been halted on medical grounds and that the alleged shooter had been moved from custody to a police psychiatric unit.

The suspect will be presented to an investigating magistrate when his health permits, they added

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the suspect was likely targeting foreigners but he was not officially affiliated with any far-right or radical groups. 

Paris police chief meets Kurdish representatives

Kurdish activists have demanded the shooting be considered a terror attack. 

"We know that we are under threat, Kurds in general, Kurdish activists and militants. France owes us protection," Berivan Firat, a spokesperson for the Kurdish democratic council in France CDK-F, told BFM TV. 

The city's police chief met with members of the Kurdish community on Saturday to allay their fears over the shooting.

In 2013, three Kurdish women, including a founder of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), were killed in a shooting at a Kurdish center in Paris.

The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. 

fb/wd (AP, Reuters)