BREAKING: France Deploys 45,000 Police on Fifth Night of Nationwide Riots

(AFP) — The French government said Sunday that hundreds more had been arrested in a fifth night of rioting sparked by the police killing of a 17-year-old, as police deployed reinforcements to flashpoint cities around the country.

Protesters, mostly minors, have torched cars, damaged infrastructure and clashed with police in an outpouring of rage since an officer shot Nahel M. point blank as he attempted to flee a traffic stop on Tuesday.

The killing was captured on video, which spread on social media and fueled anger over police violence against minorities, exposing severe racial tensions in France.

A day after Nahel was laid to rest in his home town near Paris, the interior ministry said police had made 719 arrests overnight — still a provisional tally — after around 1,300 the previous night.

Some 45 police officers or gendarmes were injured, 577 vehicles torched, 74 buildings set on fire and 871 fires set in streets and other public spaces, it said.

More than 20 police stations or gendarmerie barracks were also attacked, the ministry said.

Some 45 police officers or gendarmes were injured, 577 vehicles torched, 74 buildings set on fire and 871 fires set in streets and other public spaces, it said.

More than 20 police stations or gendarmerie barracks were also attacked, the ministry said.

“Last night the horror and disgrace reached a new level,” said the mayor, Vincent Jeanbrun.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne called the attack “intolerable”, while prosecutors said they were treating it as attempted murder.

Some 45,000 police had been 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 were concentrated on Paris and its suburbs, including along tourist hotspot the Champs Elysees avenue in central Paris following 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 Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

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

In Marseille, which has seen intense clashes and looting, police dispersed groups of youths Saturday evening at Canebiere, the main avenue running through the centre of the city, AFP journalists said.

“They came specifically to do damage, loot and leave,” said Youcef Bettahar, a shopkeeper at the Merlan shopping mall in Marseille. “We’re really disgusted by what’s happening.”

A number of towns have declared overnight curfews.

The protests present a fresh crisis for President Emmanuel Macron who had been hoping to press on with his second mandate after seeing off months of protests that erupted in January over raising the retirement age.

He postponed a state visit to Germany scheduled to begin Sunday, in a sign of the gravity of the situation in France.

Macron will head a crisis meeting Sunday with members of his government, according to the Elysee.

Nahel’s funeral ceremony was held Saturday in Nanterre, where he lived, with hundreds gathering peacefully along with his mother and grandmother.
The event was marked by “reflection” and went off “without incidents”, a witness told AFP.

In a bid to limit the ongoing violence, buses and trams in France have stopped running after 9:00 pm and the sale of large fireworks and inflammable liquids has been banned.

Marseille has stopped all urban transport from 6:00pm.

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

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said Saturday that 30 percent of those arrested were minors, while Darmanin said the average age of those arrested was just 17.

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.

Iran on Sunday called on France to “end the violent treatment of its people”, and urged its own citizens to avoid non-essential travel to France.

China’s consulate in Marseille similarly warned its citizens to “be vigilant and exercise caution” after state-run media reported the pelting with stones of a bus carrying Chinese tourists in the southern 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 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”.


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