French President Emmanuel Macron branded the riots sparked by the shooting of a 17-year-old boy “unjustifiable”.
Facing yet another crisis, Mr Macron urged the protesters to stop the violence as dozens of angry protestors have taken to the street in several French suburbs for the second night in a row to attack police officers and set cars, town halls, schools and police stations ablaze.
Overnight, protesters in Lyon were also accused of setting fire to a residential building, while other rioters in Fresnes, south of Paris, attacked a prison with fireworks.
During a meeting held on Thursday morning with interior ministry officials, the president also said: “The last few hours have been marked by scenes of violence against police stations, but also schools and town halls… against institutions and the republic.”
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin also condemned the “night of unbearable violence” carried out against “symbols of the republic”.
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In a tweet, he also said 150 people have been arrested as a consequence of the riots and praised the police officers and firefighters who tackled the protesters and the destruction they left behind.
The violent clashes began on Tuesday night, hours after teen Nahel – whose surname hasn’t yet been provided by his family or officials – was allegedly shot in Nanterre during a traffic check.
Police initially suggested the teenager drove his car towards them with the intention of hurting them, local media wrote.
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But footage shared online and verified by the AFP news agency appears to show an officer pointing their weapon at the driver through the car window and firing at point-blank range as the person behind the wheel seemingly tries to drive off.
The episode shook the country and fuelled the long-time simmering tensions between young people in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and the police.
The officer who allegedly shot the gun, who had said to have opened fire because they felt their life was in danger, is in custody on charges of voluntary manslaughter.
Nahel’s death would be the second this year in France as a result of a police shooting during a traffic stop.
Earlier this week, Mr Macron had been criticised by police unions, who accused him of rushing to judgement after he described the shooting of Nahel as “unforgivable”, with Alliance Police saying the officer should be presumed innocent until found guilty.
The president had said: “Nothing justifies the death of a young person.”
After calling for “calm for justice to be done”, he added: “I would like to express the feelings of the entire nation at what has happened and the death of young Nahel, and to tell his family of our solidarity and the nation’s affection.”
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