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Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera

Police, protesters clash at rally denouncing deadly Paris attack

Members of the Kurdish community gather at the Place de la Republique square, following a shooting, in Paris, France, December 24, 2022 [Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters]

Protesters have clashed with police in Paris as hundreds of people rallied to call for justice after a shooting in a mainly Kurdish neighbourhood in the French capital that killed three people.

Live television footage on Saturday showed protesters throwing rocks and projectiles at police who used tear gas to disperse the crowd who had gathered earlier at Place de la Republique square, a traditional venue for demonstrations in the city.

Cars were overturned, at least one vehicle was burned, and shop windows were damaged and small fires set alight.

Paris police chief Laurent Nunez said there had been a sudden violent turn in the protest but it was not yet clear why. Speaking on news channel BFM TV, Nunez said a few dozen protestors were responsible for the violence, adding there had been 11 arrests and around 30 minor injuries.

A gunman carried out the killings on Friday as he fired on people at a Kurdish cultural centre, a nearby cafe and a hair salon in a busy part of Paris’s 10th district. Three other people were also wounded in the attack, which was aimed at foreigners, according to authorities.

The suspected attacker, 69, was wounded during the incident and is now in custody. Last year, he was charged with attacking migrants and was released on bail earlier this month. Investigators considered a possible racist motive for the shooting.

After an angry crowd clashed with police on Friday afternoon, Kurdish community leaders called for a gathering from midday (11:00 GMT) on Saturday.

Reporting from the protest, Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid said there was frustration among members of the Kurdish community, many of whom believe they were deliberately targeted in Friday’s attack.

“They are still looking for answers from the police: Why did it take so long for them to arrive, why have they not designated this a terrorist attack and why they didn’t provide security to the cultural centre, which they had asked for earlier,” he added.

“People here are calling for justice and they want it now,” Bin Javaid said.

The Paris police chief met members of the Kurdish community to try to allay their fears before Saturday’s rally.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the suspect was clearly targeting foreigners, had acted alone and was not officially affiliated with any extreme-right or other radical movements.

The suspect had past convictions for illegal arms possession and armed violence.

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