Kurds clash with police in Paris on second day after killings

PARIS, Dec 24 (Reuters) – A second day of clashes broke out in Paris on Saturday between police and members of the Kurdish community angry at the killing of three members of their community on Friday.

Cars were overturned, at least one vehicle was burned and small fires were lit near Republic Square, the city’s traditional site for demonstrations where Kurds used to stage peaceful protests.

Clashes broke out as some protesters left the square and fired at police with projectiles that responded with tear gas. The fighting lasted about two hours before the protesters dispersed.

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

Police arrested a 69-year-old man who authorities said had recently been released while awaiting trial for a saber attack on a migrant camp in Paris a year ago.

After the suspect was questioned, the investigators added an alleged racist motive to the first allegations of murder and violence with weapons, the public prosecutor said on Saturday.

After an angry crowd clashed with police on Friday afternoon, the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDK-F) organized a gathering in Republic Square on Saturday.

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

“We are not protected at all. In 10 years, six Kurdish activists were killed in broad daylight in the heart of Paris,” Berivan Firat, a CDK-F spokesman told BFM TV at the demonstration.

She said the event turned violent after some protesters were provoked by people in a passing vehicle displaying a Turkish flag and making a nationalist gesture.

Friday’s killings came before the anniversary of the killing of three Kurdish women in Paris in January 2013.

An investigation was dropped after the prime suspect died shortly before trial before resuming in 2019.

“The Kurdish community is afraid. She was already traumatized by the triple murder (in 2013). She needs answers, support and consideration,” David Andic, a lawyer representing the CDK-F, told reporters on Friday.

Kurdish officials who met with the Paris police chief on Saturday reiterated their call for Friday’s shooting to be classified as a terrorist attack.

Prosecutors added that interrogation of the suspect would continue.

Reporting by Manuel Ausloos, Antony Paone, Gus Trompiz, Kate Entringer, and Caroline Pailliez; Adaptation by Philippa Fletcher and Nick Macfie

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