Clashes broke out for a second day in Paris Saturday between police and members of the Kurdish community angry at the Friday killings of three members of their community.
Cars were overturned, at least one vehicle was burned, and small fires set near Republic Square, the traditional venue for demonstrations in the city where Kurds earlier held a peaceful protest.
Clashes broke out as some demonstrators left the square, throwing projectiles at police who responded with tear gas. Skirmishes continued for around two hours before the protesters dispersed.
A gunman carried out the killings at a Kurdish cultural center and nearby cafe 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 Saturday.
After an angry crowd clashed with police Friday afternoon, the Kurdish democratic council in France (CDK-F) organized a gathering for Saturday at Republic Square.
Hundreds of Kurdish protesters, joined by politicians including the mayor of Paris’ 10th district, waved flags and listened to tributes to the victims.
“We are not being protected at all. In 10 years, six Kurdish activists have been killed in the heart of Paris in broad daylight,” Berivan Firat, a spokesperson for the CDK-F, told BFM TV at the demonstration.
She said the event turned violent after some protesters were provoked by people in a passing vehicle who displayed a Turkish flag and made a nationalistic gesture.
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 Friday.
Kurdish representatives, who met with the Paris police chief Saturday, reiterated their call for Friday’s shooting to be considered a terror attack.
The questioning of the suspect was continuing, the prosecutor’s office added.