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Paris shooting: Police fire tear gas to quell protesters after three killed in Kurdish center

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CNN
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French police fired tear gas on Friday amid clashes with agitated protesters outside a Kurdish community center in the heart of Paris, where a gunman killed three people and wounded four others in an attack with possible racist underpinnings.

All three people killed in and near the Kurdish Ahmet-Kaya Cultural Center on Rue d’Enghien were Kurds, the center’s lawyer confirmed to CNN.

The suspect in the attack, a 69-year-old Frenchman with a long criminal record, has been arrested.

He was not part of any far-right group monitored by police, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told reporters at the scene. “He (the suspect) clearly wanted to take it out on foreigners,” Darmanin said.

Clashes with dozens of protesters, mostly from the Kurdish diaspora, erupted during Darmanin’s visit to the site of the attack on Friday.

While the shooting was not ruled a terrorist attack, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau said on Friday that investigators are not ruling out possible “racist motives” behind the shooting.

“When it comes to racist motivations, it is clear that these elements are part of the investigation that has just been launched,” said Beccuau.

French President Emmanuel Macron deplored the “heinous attack” in which “the Kurds of France were targeted”, in a Twitter post on Thursday.

After the incident, a crowd gathered near the community center.

“My thoughts for the victims, for the people fighting to live, for their families and loved ones. My gratitude to our police forces for their courage and calm,” Macron said.

Police in Paris and across France were ordered to protect Kurdish sites and Turkish diplomatic institutions after the attack, according to Darmanin.

He also asked the French president and prime minister to allow Kurds, who want to hold demonstrations, to do so.

The shooting suspect was released from detention less than two weeks ago, while a court is still investigating his previous involvement in violence of a “racist nature”, the Paris prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

He has been convicted twice, in 2017 and 2022, of committing gun violence. An investigation was also launched by a Paris court in 2021 for violence “of a racist nature”, according to the statement.

Emergency services attended the scene of the shooting, where a gunman opened fire at the Kurdish Ahmet-Kaya Cultural Center in Paris.

The latest incident led to him being placed on remand while the court conducts an investigation.

“At this stage, there is no evidence that this man is affiliated with any extremist ideological movement,” the statement said.

After the incident, crowds gathered near the center, where people of Kurdish descent were heard chanting the Kurdish phrase “Şehid Namirin”, which means: Those who are lost are never really lost, but with us, according to CNN staff at place.

Darmanin urged the French President and Prime Minister to allow Kurds who wanted to protest after the fatal shooting.

Some people were also heard chanting “Assassin Erdogan”, in reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s robust stance against Kurdish nationalism and its policies towards far-left Kurdish militants and political groups based in Turkey and Iraq.

Following the attack, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his “deepest condolences” to the Kurdish people in France in a Twitter post. “My thoughts are with members of the Kurdish community and the people of France on this sad day,” added Blinken.

In 2013, three Kurdish political activists were killed in central Paris, including the founding member of the Kurdish Workers Party. All three women were shot in the head in the apparent murder.

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