A gunman has killed at least three people and injured four others after opening fire in central Paris. The gunman was identified as a 69-year-old Frenchman whose target was a group of Kurdish people at a restaurant and a salon.
“A shooting took place [in] Paris. 3 people were killed, 1 injured in an absolute emergency, and 3 in a relative emergency including the alleged attacker, arrested,” Local Mayor Alexandra Cordebard wrote after the attack.
Ali Dalek, an eyewitness, told the BBC that he was walking along the street when he heard the gunshots and saw people running “left and right.”
“And then, five or six minutes later, because we know people who work at the hair salon, we went in, and we saw that they had arrested a guy – an old man, elderly, tall,” Dalek added. The Police confirmed the suspect’s arrest after the attack, adding that the citizens could continue their duties peacefully.
“The shooter has been arrested with his weapon. The danger is over,” a Police officer said. “His identity is in the process of being checked.”
A possible racist attack
The police said it would investigate the suspect for murder, aggravated violence, and manslaughter. They are also investigating a possible racist attack. The suspect, whom the Mayor of Paris described as a far-right activist, might have carried out an act of racism.
“Kurds wherever they reside must be able to live in peace and security,” Anne Hildago, the Mayor of Paris, said. “More than ever, Paris is by their side in these dark times.”
Paris Prosecutor Laure Beccuau said there might have been racist motivations behind the shooting. “When it comes to racist motivations, of course, these elements are part of the investigation that was just launched,” he said.
Gerald Darmanin, the French Interior Minister, who visited the scene hours after the incident, confirmed that the arrested gunman targeted only foreigners.
“He clearly wanted to take it out on foreigners,” Darmanin said.“For now, no elements can allow us to know if the attack is specifically targeting Kurdish people.” The three victims that died as a result of the shooting are all Kurds. Kurds in France have been targets of racism in times past. Darmanin, the French Minister of Interior, said the government would do its best to protect the people, who are mostly from Turkey.
A similar crime after ten years
In January 2013, approximately ten years ago, three Kurdish women were murdered in Paris. Friday’s incident was similar as another three people were killed. A street close to Château d’Eau metro station in Paris is where you can easily find Kurds in Paris as they have shops and restaurants around and a cultural centre.
Following the attack, Kurds took to the street to protest the killings, leading them to clash with the police. At the time of this report, the police are said to have fired teargas at the protesters. They later managed to relatively calm the situation.