France riots: Car rammed into home of Paris mayor, injuring wife and child

French President Emmanuel Macron holds meetings with Cabinet amid disruption

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Protesters rammed a car into the home of a Paris mayor, injuring his wife and one of his children, on the fifth night of violence on French streets after the fatal police shooting of a teenager.

Hundreds more people were arrested overnight as protesters, many of them teenagers, continued to torch cars, damage infrastructure and clash with police in an outpouring of rage over the death of Nahel M, 17, who was shot dead by police on Tuesday.

A day after Nahel was buried in his home town near Paris, the Interior Ministry said police had made 719 arrests overnight, still a provisional tally, after about 1,300 the previous night.

In total, more than 3,000 people have been detained since the teenager's death.

On Sunday, the grandmother of Nahel called for calm, telling BFM TV: "Stop and do not riot", and saying that the rioters were only using his death as a "pretext".

"I tell the people who are rioting this: Do not smash windows, attack schools or buses. Stop. It's the mums who are taking the bus, it's the mums who walk outside," she said.

While nationwide numbers suggested an overall decline in tension overnight, police still recorded several serious incidents.

The home of a Paris suburb mayor was ram-raided and set alight while his wife and children were asleep inside and the mayor himself was at the town hall to deal with the riots.

Vincent Jeanbrun's wife and two children managed to escape the house through a back door, public prosecutor Stephane Hardouin said on Sunday.

The wife was "badly injured", sustaining a broken leg, Ms Hardouin said.

The town hall has been the target of attack for several nights since the shooting and has been protected with barbed wire and barricades.

“Last night the horror and disgrace reached a new level,” said Mr Jeanbrun, the mayor of L'Hay-les-Roses commune who is from the conservative opposition Les Republicains party.

“At 1.30am, as I was in the town hall just like the two previous nights, people ram-raided my home before starting a fire to torch my house, where my wife and my two young children were sleeping,” Mr Jeanbrun said on his Twitter account.

“While attempting to shield them and fleeing the attackers, my wife and one of my children got hurt.” He urged the government to impose a state of emergency.

The family will receive "reinforced protection", the prefect of police of Paris, Laurent Nunez told BFM TV. He also said he believes a turning point has been reached in the unrest after the attack on the mayor's home.

Prosecutors said a flame accelerant had been found in a bottle in the car, which was designed to set the home alight.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne condemned the incident, which is being investigated for attempted murder.

“The Prime Minister condemns these intolerable facts and gives her full support to the mayor of L'Hay-les-Roses and his relatives,” the government said on Sunday.

“She sent a message to the mayor and his family who are still in shock. The culprits will be prosecuted with the greatest firmness.”

No suspects have been arrested.

Ms Borne travelled to L'Hay-les-Roses to meet Mr Jeanbrun along with Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and other officials, and promised that “we’re going to do everything to bring order back as soon as possible".

President Emmanuel Macron held a special security meeting on Sunday evening with Ms Borne, Mr Darmanin and Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti.

He was also due to meet with leaders of parliament on Monday and with more than 220 mayors of towns and cities that have been affected by riots on Tuesday.

Mr Macron postponed a state visit to Germany that was due to have begun on Sunday to handle the worst crisis for his leadership since the "Yellow Vest" protests paralysed much of France in late 2018.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday he was following riots in France "with concern".

France is a "friendly neighbouring country" and Paris and Berlin "make sure that the European Union, which is so important to our common future, works well", Mr Scholz told broadcaster ARD.

"That is why we are of course looking at [the riots] with concern, and I very much hope, and I am certainly convinced, that the French president will find ways to ensure that this situation improves quickly."

Businesses targeted

On Saturday, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said about 10 shopping malls, more than 200 supermarkets, 250 tobacco shops and 250 bank outlets had been attacked or looted the previous night.

“All types of businesses have been targeted, especially those with valuable merchandise,” Jean-Luc Chauvin, head of the Chamber of Commerce of Aix Marseille Provence, told France Info.

A first estimate by insurers put damages at more than €100 million ($109 million), a number that will undoubtedly rise, he said.

Authorities said 45 police officers, or gendarmes, were injured, 577 vehicles torched, 74 buildings set on fire and 871 fires started in streets and other public spaces overnight into Sunday alone.

The biggest flashpoint was in Marseille where police fired tear gas and fought street battles with youths around the city centre late into the night.

In Paris, police increased security at the city's landmark Champs Elysees after a call on social media to gather there.

The street, usually packed with tourists, was lined with security forces carrying out spot checks. Shop facades were boarded up to prevent potential damage and pillaging.

About 45,000 police were deployed across France, the same number as the night before, and backup was dispatched to the previous days' flashpoints, including Lyon, Grenoble and Marseille.

Of the total, 7,000 officers were concentrated in Paris and its suburbs, including along tourist hotspot the Champs Elysees avenue in central Paris, after calls on social media to take rioting to the heart of the capital.

The massive police presence had helped keep the violence in check, said Mr Darmanin.

“A calmer night thanks to the resolute action of the security forces,” he tweeted early on Sunday.

A number of towns imposed overnight curfews in an attempt to break the cycle of violence.

Nahel's funeral was held on Saturday near Nanterre, the Paris suburb where he lived and was shot dead.

Several hundred people lined up to enter the grand mosque, as volunteers in yellow vests stood guard and a few dozen bystanders watched from across the street.

Some of the mourners, their arms crossed, said “God is Greatest” in Arabic, as they spanned the boulevard in prayer.

The event was marked by “reflection” and went off “without incidents”, a witness told agencies.

Although there were signs the trouble was starting to ease, damage remained widespread, from Paris to Marseille and Lyon and French territories overseas, where a 54-year-old died after being hit by a stray bullet in French Guiana.

In a bid to limit the violence, buses and trams in France have stopped running after 9pm and the sale of large fireworks and flammable liquids has been banned.

Marseille has stopped all urban transport from 6pm.

French President Emmanuel Macron has urged parents to take responsibility for rioters, one third of whom were “young or very young”.

Mr Dupond-Moretti said on Saturday that 30 per cent of those arrested were minors, while Mr Darmanin said the average age of those arrested was just 17.

On Saturday, Mr Dupond-Moretti warned that young people who share calls for violence on Snapchat or other apps could face prosecution. Mr Macron has blamed social media for fuelling violence.

The unrest has raised concerns abroad, with France hosting the Rugby World Cup in the autumn and the Paris Olympic Games in the summer of 2024.

Britain and other European countries updated their travel advice to warn tourists to stay away from areas affected by the rioting.

China's consulate in Marseille similarly warned its citizens to “be vigilant and exercise caution” after state-run media reported that a bus carrying Chinese tourists had been pelted with stones in the city.

Culture and entertainment have been disrupted, with singer Mylene Farmer calling off stadium concerts and French fashion house Celine cancelling its Paris menswear show.

A 38-year-old policeman has been charged with voluntary homicide over Nahel's death and has been remanded in custody.

The UN rights office said on Friday that the killing of the teen of North African descent was “a moment for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and racial discrimination in law enforcement”.

The French Foreign Ministry said any suggestion of systemic discrimination in the police force was “totally unfounded”.

Updated: July 03, 2023, 5:28 AM