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France riots: Nahel Merzouk’s grandmother calls for rioters to ‘stop’ as protests continue | World News

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The grandmother of the French teenager shot by police has called for rioters to “stop” and says her “heart is in pain”.

Nadia said rioters were using the death of her 17-year-old grandson Nahel Merzouk, who was shot by police during a traffic stop on Tuesday, as “an excuse”.

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.

“They need to stop breaking the windows, the buses, the schools. We want things to calm down. We don’t want them to destroy.

“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.”

She said her “heart is in pain”, adding that the policeman and those who attack police should all be punished.

Some 2,400 people have been arrested since Tuesday, following five nights of violent protests which have taken place in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where Nahel was shot, and other cities and towns across the country.

French president Emmanuel Macron will meet government ministers for crisis talks this evening.

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Tear gas fired during clashes

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.

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

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

Regional prosecutor Stephane Hardouin opened an investigation into attempted murder and said a flame accelerant was found in a bottle in the car.

Meanwhile, 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.

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France riots: Thousands arrested

In Paris, police increased security at the city’s landmark Champs Elysees avenue after a call on social media to gather
there. Shop facades were boarded up to prevent potential damage and pillaging.

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.

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Witness says police threatened teen before fatal shooting
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The teenager, who was of Algerian and Moroccan descent, was a member of the Pirates of Nanterre rugby club and had reportedly enrolled on a course leading to an electrical qualification.

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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