(Paris) Three people were shot dead and three others injured Friday in the center of Paris by a man of French nationality who, according to the French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, wanted “obviously to attack foreigners and would have acted alone.
The 69-year-old man, known for previous acts of violence with weapons, was arrested shortly after the incident and placed in police custody.
The facts took place on rue d’Enghien, near a Kurdish cultural center, in a lively shopping district popular with the Kurdish community.
“Three people died: two in front of the Kurdish cultural center, another in a restaurant, and another fight against death”, detailed Mr. Darmanin during a press point on the spot in the afternoon.
Two people are less seriously injured and the alleged shooter was also slightly injured during his arrest.
In a tweet, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced an “odious attack” of which “the Kurds of France were the target”.
“Thoughts of the victims, of the people who are struggling to live, of their families and loved ones,” wrote the head of state.
The Paris public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation for assassination, attempted assassination, intentional violence with weapons and violation of the legislation on weapons. The investigations were entrusted to the judicial police.
The National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office (PNAT) went there but there is “no element which would favor the need for their referral”, indicated the Paris prosecutor, Laure Beccuau, dismissing for the time being the track of an attack.
“Obviously acted alone”
In front of the press, Mr.me Beccuau added that the possible “racist motives of the facts […] will obviously be part of the investigations that have just begun”.
The man “wanted to attack strangers” and “obviously acted alone”, estimated for his part Mr. Darmanin, who specified that he frequented a shooting range.
“It is not certain that the killer who wanted to assassinate these people […] did it specifically for the Kurds”, he added, while rumors of a “political” attack were relayed by the Kurdish community.
Mr. Darmanin specified that the victims were not “known to the French services”. He nevertheless ordered the establishment of protection in front of the places where the Kurdish community gathers but also the Turkish influence.
“There is nothing at this stage to accredit any affiliation of this man to an extremist ideological movement,” wrote prosecutor Beccuau in a press release published at the end of the day.
According to two police sources, this man, a 69-year-old retired train driver of French nationality, is known for acts of violence with weapons committed in 2016 and December 2021.
On the other hand, he is unknown to the files of territorial intelligence and the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI), said one of these two sources.
Violence with weapons
The Paris prosecutor indicated that the suspect had been sentenced in June to 12 months in prison for acts of violence with weapons committed in 2016. He appealed against this conviction.
He was also indicted in December 2021 for violence with weapons, with premeditation and of a racist nature, and degradations for acts committed on December 8, 2021 in Paris, according to Laure Beccuau.
Initially placed in pre-trial detention, he was released on December 12 on bail, as required by law, and placed under judicial supervision, said the prosecutor.
In 2017, the man was given a six-month suspended prison sentence for prohibited possession of weapons.
On the spot, where a security perimeter was set up at the intersection of rue d’Enghien and rue d’Hauteville, the emotion was strong.
Violent incidents erupted in the afternoon in the neighborhood between demonstrators and police who responded to throwing projectiles with tear gas jets.
Garbage cans were set on fire and barricades erected in the street.
The windows of several civilian and police vehicles were shattered by cobblestones and bricks, and numerous fires were lit on the roadway.
“PKK” (Workers’ Party of Kurdistan), “martyrs do not die!” “, chanted in particular demonstrators.
From the minutes following the shooting, members of the Ahmed Kaya cultural center blamed Turkey, noted an AFP journalist. “It’s starting again, you’re not protecting us, they’re killing us!” some shouted.
Friday’s attack comes nearly 10 years to the day after the January 9, 2013 assassination of three Kurdish activists from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the same neighborhood.
The judicial inquiry in France, still in progress, had noted the “involvement” of members of the Turkish secret services, without designating any sponsors.