Paris protests over Kurdish deaths turn violent

Paris: Clashes have broken out for a second day in Paris between police and Kurdish protestors angry at the killing of three members of their community by a gunman.

Cars were overturned, at least one vehicle was burnt, shop windows were damaged and small fires set alight near Republic Square, a traditional venue for demonstrations where Kurds earlier held a peaceful protest.

A peaceful protest over a shooting attack near a Kurdish cultural centre in central Paris turned violent on Saturday. Credit:AP

Paris police chief Laurent Nunez said there had been a sudden violent turn in the protest on Saturday but it was not yet clear why.

Speaking on news channel BFM TV, Nunez said a few dozen protesters were responsible for the violence, adding there had been 11 arrests and around 30 minor injuries.

As some demonstrators left the square they threw projectiles at police who responded with tear gas. Skirmishes continued for around two hours before the protesters dispersed.

A gunman carried out the killings at a Kurdish cultural centre and nearby cafe on Friday in a busy part of Paris’ 10th district, stunning a community preparing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the unresolved murder of three activists.

Activists hold placards demanding freedom for women and the Kurdish people outside the Kurdish culture centre in Paris on Saturday.Credit:AP

Police arrested a 69-year-old French man who the authorities said had recently been freed from detention while awaiting trial for a sabre attack on a migrant camp in Paris a year ago.

Following his questioning, investigators had added a suspected racist motive to initial accusations of murder and violence with weapons, the prosecutor’s office said.

However, the questioning was later halted on medical grounds and the man transferred to a psychiatric unit, the prosecutor’s office said in an update.

The suspect would be presented to an investigating magistrate when his health permits, it added.

Demonstrators stand next to a burning barricade during a protest against the recent shooting at the Kurdish culture center in Paris on Saturday.Credit:AP

After a gathering on Friday afternoon that had also led to clashes with police, the Kurdish democratic council in France (CDK-F) organised the demonstration at Republic Square.

Hundreds of Kurdish protesters, joined by politicians including the mayor of Paris’ 10th district, waved flags and listened to tributes to the victims.

“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 CDK-F, told BFM TV at the demonstration.

She said the event had soured after some protesters were provoked by people making pro-Turkish gestures in a passing vehicle.

Friday’s murders came ahead of the anniversary of the killings of three Kurdish women in Paris in January 2013. An investigation was dropped after the main suspect died shortly before coming to trial, before being re-opened in 2019.

Kurdish representatives, who met on Saturday with Nunez as well as French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti, reiterated their call for Friday’s shooting to be considered a terror attack.


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