Skirmishes break out in Paris after shooting leaves three dead

An attack in a bustling Paris neighbourhood has left three people dead, as Sejal Karia reports

Three people have been killed in a shooting in central Paris on Friday which left at least three others injured.

A 69-year-old man was arrested over the attack in the 10th arrondissement of the French capital, and was also taken to hospital with injuries.

Prosecutors said the suspect has a prior police record, including an arrest for attacking migrants living in tents, and that investigators are considering a possible racist motive for the shooting.

Skirmishes erupted in the neighbourhood a few hours after the shooting, as members of the Kurdish community shouted slogans against the Turkish government.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the increasingly agitated crowd while some protesters set rubbish bins on fire.

Police speak to witnesses at a hairdresser and restaurant facing the cultural centre. Credit: AP

Tensions boiled over as interior minister Gérald Darmanin spoke to reporters nearby. He said the attacker was clearly targeting foreigners, but that police don't have evidence at this stage that he was specifically aiming to hurt Kurds.

Mr Darmanin is holding a special meeting Friday night to assess threats targeting the Kurdish community in France.

Shocked members the community said they had been recently warned by police of threats to Kurdish targets.

Nearby residents and business owners were deeply rattled by the attack, which came as Paris is buzzing with festive activity before the Christmas weekend.

Community members shouted slogans against the Turkish government. Credit: AP

A construction worker who was on a job nearby described seeing the assailant go first to the cultural centre, then to the restaurant and then the hairdresser.

He said he saw the assailant injure three people, then two passersby intervened and stopped the attacker, who he described as being silent and calm as he wielded a small-calibre pistol.

Out of those who were wounded, one in a critical condition, and two others are hospitalised with less serious injuries, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau said.

Skirmishes broke out in the streets as tensions over the attack boiled over. Credit: AP

She said anti-terrorism prosecutors are in contact with investigators, but are yet to indicate any sign of a terrorist motive.

The prosecutor said the suspect had at least two prior run-ins with police: the attack on migrants in tents in eastern Paris in 2021, and a recent conviction in another case in the capital. She didn't elaborate on details of either case.

According to aid group Utopia 54, the suspect wounded people with a sabre when he attacked the makeshift migrant camp.

Police officers stand in a cloud of teargas as they try to contain the unrest. Credit: AP

Mr Darmanin said the alleged attacker attended a shooting range at a sports club and had several registered weapons.

He added that the suspect is French and was not on any radicalism watchlists, or known for involvement in any extreme-right or other political movements.

“We do not at all feel protected in Paris," activist Murat Roni said. “We don’t feel defended by the French justice system. It’s clearly the Kurds who were targeted."

A member of Kurdish community kneels on the ground as he is detained during clashes. Credit: AP

He likened the cultural centre to an "embassy for Kurds in Paris” - a gathering place for cultural events, political discussion, assistance with immigration procedures, “a house where all Kurds get together.”

In 2013, three women Kurdish activists, including Sakine Cansiz — a founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK — were found shot dead at a Kurdish center in Paris.

A Turkish citizen was charged with their killing, although suspicion also fell on the Turkish intelligence service.

France was hit by a string of deadly attacks by Islamic extremists in 2015-2016 and remains on alert for terrorism-related violence.

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