President Emmanuel Macron condemned the "heinous" assault on France's Kurds after a gunman opened fire at a Kurdish cultural center in Paris, leaving at least three people dead and three more injured.
At about noon (11:00 GMT) on Friday, several gunshots were fired on Rue d'Enghien, causing fear on a street packed with tiny businesses and cafés in the popular 10th district of the French capital.
According to a lawyer for the Kurdish cultural center, all three of the victims were Kurds. Three further people were hurt, one of whom had critical injuries.
A 69-year-old former train driver was detained as a suspect, according to the authorities. The guy had just been freed from prison while awaiting trial for an assault on a migrant camp in Paris one year before, according to the Paris prosecutor, and authorities were looking into a potential racial motivation for the shooting.
The suspect, referred to as "William M." by French media and allegedly born in Paris, will be the subject of many important inquiries from French officials in the coming days, including why he was on parole.
A little distance from the gunshot location, scores of demonstrators gathered on the streets later on Friday. Projectiles were hurled at police, trash cans and restaurant tables were knocked over, and automobiles were damaged as police used tear gas to fend off the irate mob.
Kurds in France were the intended target of the assault, according to President Emmanuel Macron's tweet.
"A terrible assault in the center of Paris was directed against the Kurds of France. In a tweet, Macron expressed his condolences to the victims, those who are fighting for their lives, and their families and loved ones.”
The leader of the hard-left France Unbowed political group in parliament, Mathilde Panot, blamed the extreme right and described it as a "racist assault."
Gerald Darmanin, the interior minister, was more circumspect when speaking after seeing the attack's location. "There is little question that the shooter intended to target foreigners. There is now no proof to support that it was exclusively the Kurds, therefore we need to learn from the legal investigation," he told reporters.
According to Darmanin, the suspect "has numerous registered guns" and is a member of a shooting sports club.
Mehmet Dilek, an eyewitness, told Reuters that he first heard gunshots, followed by shouts coming from a barbershop across from the cultural center. The shooter was restrained by onlookers as he reloaded, he continued.
In the 10th arrondissement's Rue d'Enghien, a local shopkeeper told AFP that she had heard seven or eight gunshots and described the situation as "complete terror." We kept ourselves inside shut.
The organization that promotes the integration of the Kurdish community in the Paris area makes use of the Centre Ahmet Kaya, a center for the Kurdish community.
After the shooting, members of the Kurdish community in Paris sought justice, claiming that police had just alerted them to threats against Kurdish targets.
Kurdish leaders also asked for stronger community safety, which has been an issue for Kurds in France since three prominent Kurdish women were murdered ten years ago.
Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said on Twitter that Kurds "should be allowed to live in peace and security, wherever they dwell." "Paris stands on their side in these hard times more than ever,"
Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany, denounced the assault on Twitter. Paris and France have been shocked today by a dreadful incident, he said. The victims and their families are in my thoughts.