Renewed clashes broke out in Paris on Saturday between police and members of the Kurdish community angry at the killing on Friday of three members of their community.
Several cars were overturned and small fires were set alight near Republic Square, the traditional venue for demonstrations in the city where Kurds earlier held a protest.
Clashes broke out as some demonstrators left the square, throwing projectiles at police who responded with tear gas.
A gunman carried out the killings at a Kurdish cultural center and nearby cafe on Friday in a busy part of Paris’ 10th district, stunning a community preparing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the unresolved murder of three activists.
Police arrested a 69-year-old man who the authorities said had recently been freed from detention while awaiting trial for a saber attack on a migrant camp in Paris a year ago.
Following questioning of the suspect, investigators had added a suspected racist motive to initial accusations of murder and violence with weapons, the prosecutor’s office said on Saturday.
After an angry crowd clashed with police on Friday afternoon, the Kurdish democratic council in France (CDK-F) organized a gathering on Saturday at Republic Square.
Hundreds of Kurdish protesters, joined by politicians including the mayor of the central 10th district, waved flags and listened to tributes to the victims.
“We know that we are under threat, Kurds in general, Kurdish activists and militants. France owes us protection,” Berivan Firat, a spokesperson for the CDK-F told BFM TV.
Friday’s murders came ahead of the anniversary of the killings of three Kurdish women in Paris in January 2013.
An investigation was dropped after the main suspect died shortly before coming to trial, before being re-opened in 2019.
“The Kurdish community is afraid. It was already traumatized by the triple murder (in 2013). It needs answers, support, and consideration,” David Andic, a lawyer representing the CDK-F told reporters on Friday.
Kurdish representatives, who met with Paris’ police chief on Saturday morning, reiterated their call for Friday’s shooting to be considered as a terror attack.
The questioning of the suspect was continuing, the prosecutor’s office added.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters