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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

France riots: Grandmother of teen shot by police appeals for calm as 3,000 arrested during unrest | World News

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The grandmother of the teenager whose death sparked riots across France has appealed for calm, as the total number of arrests has risen above 3,000.

Nadia accused rioters of using the death of her grandson as an “excuse” for engaging in violence and looting.

Nahel Merzouk, 17, was shot by police during a traffic stop on Tuesday.

She told French broadcaster BFM TV: “Fortunately the police are here. The people who are destroying, I tell them to ‘stop’. They are using Nahel as an excuse.

“I am tired, I can’t take it anymore, I can’t sleep, I turned off the TV, I turned everything off I don’t want to listen to this anymore.”

Image:
Nahel Merzouk, 17, was fatally shot on Tuesday

More than 3,000 people have been arrested since Tuesday, following six nights of violent protests across France.

However, the unrest seems to be calming with the rate of arrests dropping dramatically, from 719 on Saturday to just 78 on Sunday.

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France: The 6th night of unrest?

Hundreds of police and firefighters have been injured in the violence, although authorities have not said how many protesters have been hurt.

President Emmanuel Macron held a security meeting with prime minister Elisabeth Borne, interior minister Gerald Darmanin and justice minister Eric Dupond-Moretti on Sunday evening. He did not hold a news conference or issue a statement.

President Emmanuel Macron, center, chairs a government emergency meeting. Pic:AP
Image:
President Emmanuel Macron, center, chairs a government emergency meeting. Pic:AP

Elsewhere, rioters have torched cars and looted stores and have targeted town halls, police stations and schools.

The mayor of L’Hay-les-Roses, a suburb on the outskirts of Paris, condemned protesters who rammed his home with a burning car on Sunday.

A burnt-out car is removed from the scene
Image:
A burnt-out car is removed from the scene

Vincent Jeanbrun, who was not at home at the time, said his property was “ram-raided” and set alight while his wife and two children, aged five and seven, were asleep.

His wife broke her leg and one of the youngsters was injured as they fled the building through the back garden. Mr Jeanbrun called it “an assassination attempt of unspeakable cowardice”.

A French firefighter extinguishing a burning car during the fifth night of protests
Image:
A French firefighter extinguishing a burning car during the fifth night of protests

Mr Jeanbrun told France’s prime minister that his wife had had surgery and faced a three-month rehabilitation.

An attempted murder case was opened after investigators discovered a flame accelerant in the car.

Officers in Marseille fired tear gas at protesters on Saturday, as Sky News footage showed crowds dispersing in the moments after the substance was deployed by officers.

The teenager’s killing ignited long-simmering tensions between police and young people in housing projects who struggle with poverty, unemployment and racial discrimination.

Flowers at Nelson Mandela Square in Nanterre
Image:
Flowers at Nelson Mandela Square in Nanterre

A funeral for Nahel was held in Nanterre on Saturday afternoon, with family and friends viewing an open coffin before it was taken to a mosque for a ceremony and later burial.

Read more:
Witness says police threatened teen before fatal shooting
New advice issued for UK travellers to France

The spiralling crisis has posed a challenge to Mr Macron’s leadership and he was forced to postpone his trip to Germany and leave an EU summit early.

The officer who shot Nahel has been put under formal investigation over voluntary homicide and is being held in prison in preventive detention.

Under the French legal system, being placed under formal investigation is akin to being charged in the UK.



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