Tear gas fired as violent protests break out after Kurds killed in Paris attack

Eleven police officers injured in clashes with crowd and three people arrested

Protesters clash with French police near the Rue d'Enghien in Paris, after the shooting. Reuters
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Eleven police officers have been injured in protests in Paris, after three people were killed by a gunman in the centre of the capital on Friday morning.

The suspected gunman was identified in French media as 69-year-old "William M". He was arrested in the city's 10th district shortly after the three people were killed. The victims were later confirmed to be members of the Kurdish community.

Officials condemned the “heinous attack” that targeted a Kurdish cultural centre, restaurant and hair salon in the bustling neighbourhood near the Gare du Nord railway station.

A young woman and a musician were among the victims, the Kurdish Institute of Paris said in a statement.

The Kurdish Democratic Council of France held a minute of silence for the victims and said the head of the Kurdish Women's Movement in France is among the dead.

The alleged gunman was released from prison in recent weeks and had previously been convicted of racially motivated attacks, including attempted murder in a knife attack on a migrant camp last December.

His elderly father said he had been living at his parents' home in the capital since his release on December 12 and was "withdrawn."

"He didn't live like everyone else," he told AFP. "He said nothing when he left this morning."

Their home is now being searched by police.

The Kurdish community has been shaken by the attack, the institute said ahead of a press conference.

Crowds gathered at the Rue d'Enghien on Friday afternoon, clashing with police, who fired tear gas at demonstrators.

Confrontations broke out after Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin visited the scene of the attack.

The minister said the gunman "clearly wanted to kill foreigners" but said it was uncertain if he targeted Kurds in particular.

Despite his past, the alleged gunman was not known to intelligence services and was not previously known as a member of the far-right, Mr Darmanin said.

He is also a member of shooting club and had a number of declared weapons, the minister said.

The nearby Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis was “drowning” in tear gas as protesters hurled rocks at police, Le Monde reported on Friday evening.

Video footage posted to social media showed riot police running away as people threw traffic cones and bar stools in their direction. Bins were also set alight and barricades erected, Le Monde reported.

In the southern city of Marseille, mounted police took to the streets after crowds gathered with Kurdish flags in the city centre.

French President Emmanuel Macron denounced Friday's attack.

"The Kurds of France have been targeted in a hateful attack in the heart of Paris," Mr Macron said on Twitter.

"Thoughts to the victims and those fighting for their lives."

It came just weeks before the 10th anniversary of the murder of three Kurdish activists in the same district.

Three women were shot to death in broad daylight in January 2013, shocking France. One of the victims was a co-founder of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), a Kurdish group which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish government.

Police have said they will investigate racial motivations behind Friday's attack but said the gunman's motives remain unclear.

Updated: December 23, 2022, 8:38 PM