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France Protests: Over 1,300 Arrested as Violence and Looting Escalate

Violence and looting erupted in France for the fourth consecutive night as protests escalated, leading to over 1,300 arrests. Law enforcement officials were deployed in force across the country, but clashes continued, exacerbating concerns about public safety. These events unfolded as the funeral of a teenager, who was tragically killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop, took place on Saturday.

france riots

The French government acknowledged a slight decrease in the intensity of violence compared to previous nights, although the interior ministry reported 1,311 arrests nationwide during the latest wave of unrest. This marked the highest number of arrests recorded in a single night since the protests began earlier in the week.

The funeral ceremony for the teenager commenced in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris where the young victim resided. The atmosphere was tense as a large crowd gathered at the local cemetery to pay their respects, amidst an ongoing backdrop of unrest.

Preliminary figures released by the interior ministry revealed that overnight incidents included the torching of 1,350 vehicles and 234 buildings. Additionally, there were 2,560 reported instances of fires set in public spaces. The ministry also reported that 79 police officers or gendarmes sustained injuries during the clashes.

Despite the deployment of 45,000 officers, the largest number since the protests began, supported by specialized police units and light armored vehicles, authorities faced challenges in containing looting incidents in cities such as Marseille, Lyon, and Grenoble. Groups of rioters, often wearing masks, ransacked shops in these areas.

The violence persisted in Paris and its suburbs, where 406 arrests were made in and around the capital, according to a police source. The unrest continued despite heavy rain throughout the night.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, during a visit to Mantes-la-Jolie west of Paris, stated that the intensity of the violence appeared to have diminished, though it was still significant. He had earlier announced an "exceptional" deployment of police and gendarmes to address the riots sparked by the teenager's tragic death. Notably, nine individuals were arrested in the Vieux Pont district of Nanterre for possessing Molotov cocktails and petrol canisters.

The French national football team issued a statement appealing for an end to the violence, emphasizing the importance of mourning, dialogue, and constructive means of expressing grievances. They expressed shock at the teenager's untimely death and called for peaceful resolutions to prevailing issues.

Marseille experienced clashes and looting once again, spreading from the city center to neglected low-income neighborhoods that were visited by President Emmanuel Macron earlier in the week. Authorities in Marseille reported that the rioters and looters, often masked, were primarily young individuals who displayed high mobility.

Amidst the unrest, a major fire broke out in a supermarket, suspected to be related to the ongoing riots. Marseille Mayor Benoit Payan requested additional law enforcement support from the central government to tackle the escalating situation.

Instances of looting and clashes between hooded protesters and police were also reported in Grenoble, Saint-Etienne, and Lyon.

As a precautionary measure, bus and tram services across France halted operations after 9:00 pm, following the destruction of public transport vehicles in recent days. The sale of large fireworks and inflammable substances has been banned.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced the cancellation of large-scale events nationwide, including concerts by renowned singer Mylene Farmer at the Stade de France this weekend.

Government officials held a crisis meeting to discuss strategies and address the evolving situation.

The killing of the teenager has reignited long-standing concerns about policing practices and racial profiling in France's low-income and multi-ethnic suburbs. While the teenager's mother accused the detained police officer of targeting her son due to his Arab ethnicity, President Macron denounced the "unforgivable" death.


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