Paris gunman 'has history of violence and told police he is a racist'

Authorities say suspect in attack that killed three people is an arms enthusiast who was out on bail

Kurdish activists protest in Paris on Saturday over the shooting at a community cultural centre. AP
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A man suspected of killing three people in a gun attack at a Kurdish cultural centre and a hair salon in Paris has reportedly told police he is a racist.

The suspect, named in French media as William M, 69, is alleged to have opened fire in the upmarket 10th district of the French capital before midday on Friday.

On Saturday, the suspect told investigators he carried out the attack because he was a racist, a source close to the case told AFP.

It comes a year after he was accused of stabbing migrants and slashing their tents in Paris.

On Friday he was found with a case loaded with a box of at least 25 cartridges and "two or three loaded magazines", police said.

The weapon was a "much-used" US Army Colt 1911 pistol.

Three people were wounded in the attack.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that "the Kurds in France have been the target of an odious attack in the heart of Paris" and ordered the capital's police chief to meet leaders of the Kurdish community on Saturday.

The UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, said it "strongly condemned" the shooting incident.

The gunman initially attacked the Kurdish cultural centre before entering a hairdressing salon where he was arrested.

The Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDK-F) said two men and one woman were killed.

Emine Kara was a leader of the Kurdish Women's Movement in France, the organisation's spokesman Agit Polat said.

Her claim for political asylum in France had been rejected.

The other victims were Abdulrahman Kizil and Mir Perwer, a political refugee and artist, according to the CDK-F.

The Kurdish community centre, Centre Ahmet Kaya, is used by a charity that organises concerts and exhibitions.

Within hours of the attack, Kurdish protesters clashed with police, who used tear gas in an attempt to disperse them as they tried to break through a police cordon deployed to protect Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who had arrived at the scene.

Demonstrators threw objects at police while voicing fury over an attack they saw as deliberate, and which they said French security services had done too little to prevent.

On Saturday, further protests by the Kurdish community took place in Paris.

Police said the alleged gunman is an arms enthusiast with a history of weapons offences who had been released on bail earlier this month.

The retired train driver was convicted for armed violence in 2016 by a court in the multicultural Seine-Saint-Denis suburb of Paris, but appealed.

A year later, he was convicted for illegally possessing a firearm.

Last year, he was charged with racist violence after migrants were stabbed with a sword and their tents slashed, in a park in eastern Paris.

"He is crazy," his father was quoted as saying by the M6 television channel.

Kurdish activists said they had recently been warned by police of threats to their community.

In 2013, three female Kurdish activists, including Sakine Cansiz, a founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, were found shot dead at a Kurdish centre in Paris.

Updated: December 25, 2022, 11:57 AM