PARIS: France witnessed a second consecutive night of turmoil as masked protesters, burning debris and launching fireworks, clashed violently with security forces, AFP reported Thursday.
These demonstrations were fueled by the tragic shooting of a teenager by the police.
Seventeen-year-old Nahel M was fatally shot in the chest at point-blank range on Tuesday morning.
The incident has reignited a passionate debate in France about police tactics, which have long faced criticism from human rights groups for their treatment of residents in impoverished suburbs, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
In honour of her beloved and only child, the teenager’s mother has called for a march on Thursday as a heartfelt tribute.
As darkness descended on Wednesday, the clashes that had initially erupted in neighbourhoods around the capital spread to other cities in France, including Toulouse, Dijon, and Lyon.
To maintain control, approximately 2,000 riot police were deployed to Paris and its surrounding suburbs, leading to 77 arrests by 2:00 am on Thursday, according to the local police.
In the western Hauts-de-Seine region of Paris, where the tragic shooting occurred, a second consecutive night of confrontations unfolded. Masked protesters dressed in black hurled fireworks and firecrackers at the security forces. The area was filled with thick smoke as numerous cars and garbage cans were set ablaze, and road barriers were used to block off streets.
On the walls of a building, graffiti demanding “justice for Nahel” and condemning police violence could be seen. The atmosphere in the working-class 18th and 19th districts of northeastern Paris was particularly tense. As police attempted to disperse the protesters by firing flashballs, the crowd responded defiantly by throwing bottles instead of dispersing.
“We are sick of being treated like this. This is for Nahel, we are Nahel,” said two young men calling themselves “Avengers” as they wheeled rubbish bins from a nearby estate to add to a burning barricade.
One said his family had lived in France for three generations but “they are never going to accept us.”
In the Essonne region south of the capital, a group set a bus on fire after forcing all the passengers off, police said, while in Clamart a tram was set on fire.
In the southern city of Toulouse, several cars were torched and responding police and firefighters were pelted with projectiles, a police source said, while authorities reported similar scenes in Dijon and Lyon.
At France’s second-largest prison complex, Fresnes, protesters attacked security at the entrance with fireworks, a police source said. “They did not enter the prison grounds. The police were quickly called in,” the source added.
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