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PARIS, Dec 24 (Reuters) – Clashes erupted for a second day in Paris on Saturday between police and members of the Kurdish community, angered by the killing on Friday of three members of their community.
Cars were overturned, at least one vehicle was burned and small fires were lit near Republic Square, the city’s traditional demonstration site, where Kurds had earlier staged a peaceful protest.
Clashes broke out as some demonstrators left the square, throwing projectiles at police, who responded with tear gas. The gunfight continued for about two hours before the protesters dispersed.
A shooter carried out the killings at a Kurdish cultural center and a nearby cafe on Friday in a busy part of Paris’s 10th arrondissement, stunning a community preparing to mark the 10th anniversary of the unsolved killing of three activists.
Police have arrested a 69-year-old man who authorities say was recently released from custody while awaiting trial for a saber attack on a migrant camp in Paris a year ago.
After questioning the suspect, investigators added an alleged racial motive to the initial charges of murder and gun violence, prosecutors said Saturday.
After an angry crowd clashed with police on Friday afternoon, the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDK-F) organized a rally on Saturday in Place de la République.
Hundreds of Kurdish protesters, joined by politicians including the mayor of Paris’s 10th arrondissement, waved flags and listened to tributes to the victims.
“We are not protected at all. In 10 years, six Kurdish activists were killed in the heart of Paris in broad daylight,” Berivan Firat, CDK-F spokesman, told BFM TV during the demonstration.
She said the event turned violent after some protesters were provoked by people in a passing car who displayed a Turkish flag and made a nationalist gesture.
Friday’s killings came before the anniversary of the killings of three Kurdish women in Paris in January 2013.
The investigation was dropped after the prime suspect died shortly before he was due to stand trial, before resuming in 2019.
“The Kurdish community is afraid. She was already traumatized by the triple homicide (in 2013). It needs answers, support and attention,” David Andich, a lawyer representing CDK-F, told reporters on Friday.
Kurdish representatives who met the Paris police chief on Saturday reiterated their call for Friday’s shooting to be considered a terrorist attack.
The questioning of the suspect continues, added the prosecutor’s office.
Reporting by Manuel Auslos, Antoni Paone, Gus Trompiz, Kate Entringer and Carolyn Payliez; editing by Philippa Fletcher and Nick McPhee
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