‘Total panic’: Clashes break out after gunman kills three in Paris

Clashes between protestors and police broke out in Paris on Friday following a shooting that left three people dead and three others wounded.

A gunman opened fire in the 10th arrondissement, at Kurdish cultural centre a nearby restaurant and hair salon, just a few streets away from where three Kurds were murdered a decade ago. 

The Paris prosecutor said the suspect had recently been released from prison after attacking migrants living in tents, and investigators are considering a possible racist motive for the shooting.

Tear gas was used by Police on agitated demonstrators, as the protests became disruptive with bins being set on fire. 

Spokesperson for the Kurdish Democratic Council of France, Agit Polat, said: “We’re angry because we have repeatedly sounded the alarm, the last time was just 20 days ago. 

“We’re angry because we have not been heard. We’re angry because we are constantly being arrested, we are constantly being repressed by the French authorities.”

Shocked members of the Kurdish community in Paris said they had been recently warned by the Police of threats to Kurdish people, and demanded justice after the shooting.

Shortly after the attack, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the suspect had clearly targeted ‘foreigners’ and had acted alone and was not affiliated with any extreme-right or other radical movements.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that French Kurds had been “the target of a heinous attack in the heart of Paris.”

“Thoughts to the victims, to the people who are struggling to live, to their families and loved ones. Recognition to our law enforcement for their courage and composure,” the president wrote on Twitter. 

One of the people wounded in Friday’s attack remains in critical condition, according to officials. 

The shooting occurred in a Kurdish cultural centre and a restaurant and hairdresser nearby, on rue d’Enghien, located between Saint-Denis and Montmartre near the Gare de l’Est train station in the French capital’s 10th district. 

Speaking to reporters at the scene, the local mayor Alexandra Cordebardshe said the “real motivation” for the shooting remains unclear.

As she spoke, a crowd nearby chanted, “Erdogan, terrorist” — referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — and “Turkish state, assassin.”

Paris police initially asked people to avoid the area and allow for emergency services to get to the scene. 

“It was a total panic,” a shopkeeper from a nearby building told AFP.

Romain, the assistant manager of Pouliche Paris, said: “We saw an old white man come in and shoot in the Kurdish cultural centre, then he went into the hairdresser’s next door. We took refuge in the restaurant with other employees.”

According to a local resident who was walking by, “there were people in panic who shouted at the police: ‘He’s here, he’s here, move on’, pointing to a hairdressing salon.” 

“I saw police officers enter the salon where I saw two people on the ground, with injuries to their legs, I saw blood,” he added, describing “people in shock and panic”.

The Ahmet Kaya Centre, named after a famous Turkish-Kurdish singer who lived in the city, was established in 1901 and aims to “promote progressive integration” of the Kurdish population living in the wider Paris area.

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