French police on Friday fired tear gas amid clashes with agitated protesters outside a Kurdish community center in central Paris, where a gunman earlier killed three people and wounded four others in an attack on the grounds of racism.
All three people killed inside and near the Ahmet-Kaya Kurdish Cultural Center on Rue d’Enghien were all Kurds, the center’s attorney confirmed to CNN.
The suspected attacker, a 69-year-old French man with multiple criminal records, has been arrested.
He does not belong to any far-right group that is monitored by the police, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told journalists at the scene. “He (the suspect) clearly wanted to take out the foreigner,” Darmanin said.
Clashes with dozens of protesters, mostly from the Kurdish community, broke out during Darmanin’s visit to the site of Friday’s attack.
While the shooting is not being treated as a terrorist attack, Paris Prosecutor Laure Beccuau said earlier on Friday that investigators did not rule out the possibility that there was a “racist motive” behind it. Shooting.
“When it comes to racist motives, of course these factors are part of the investigation that has just been launched,” Beccuau said.
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the “cruel attack” that “French Kurds were the target”, in a Twitter post on Thursday.
“My thoughts go out to the victims, to those fighting to live, to their families and loved ones. I am grateful to our law enforcement forces for their courage and composure,” Macron said.
According to Darmanin, police in Paris and across France were ordered to guard Kurdish sites and Turkish diplomatic facilities following the attack.
He has also asked the French president and prime minister to allow the Kurds, who want to organize protests, to do so.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said in a statement that the shooting suspect was freed less than two weeks ago as the court is still investigating his previous involvement in the violence with “the nature of the shooting”. racial segregation”.
He was convicted twice, in 2017 and 2022, for gun violence offenses. According to the statement, an investigation has also been launched by a Paris court in 2021 for the violence “of a racist nature”.
The incident eventually landed him in pre-trial detention while the court conducted an investigation.
“At this stage, there is no evidence that this man is affiliated with any radical ideological movement,” the statement said.
After the incident, crowds gathered near the center, where people of Kurdish descent were heard chanting the Kurdish phrase “Şehid Namirin”, which means: Those who are lost are never really lost but with them me, according to CNN’s team on the ground.
Some were also heard chanting “The Erdogan killer”, a reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s strong stance against Kurdish nationalism and his policies towards the Kurds. Kurdish political group and leftist fighters based in Turkey and Iraq.
After the attack, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his “deepest sympathies” for the Kurds in France in a Twitter post. “My thoughts are with members of the Kurdish community and the people of France on this sad day,” Blinken added.
In 2013, three Kurdish political activists were killed in central Paris, including a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. All three women were shot in the head clear assassination.