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Marine Le Pen; French PM Edouard Philippe (Wikipedia)

Riots in Nantes continue

In a bid to defuse tensions, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe visited Nantes on Thursday as fears mount that the unrest could spread. Rioting continued for a fourth night after police shot dead a young black suspect.

Published: July 7, 2018, 11:05 am

    Philippe promised “the fullest transparency” about the circumstances of the criminal suspect’s death ahead of a demonstration in Nantes calling for “justice for Abou”. Aboubakar Fofana, a seasoned criminal with a long police record, was killed during a police check.

    More than 50 cars were set alight in the western French city in four nights of rioting with fresh clashes erupting between youths and police early on Saturday. The policeman who shot the black man has meanwhile been charged with manslaughter, AFP reported.

    Around 1am on Saturday, seven vehicles were burned in Orvault, Rézé, and the migrant neighbourhoods of Nantes Breil and Bellevue. Law enforcement officers were attacked with molotov cocktails and they fired back with tear gas.

    A migrant housing estate was also set alight, but the fire was contained. Tensions eventually subsided and around 4 am, the situation gradually returned to calm.

    Fresh violence had broken out a few hours earlier, when the policeman charged with the shooting had been released under judicial supervision, in accordance with the requisitions of the prosecutor of Nantes Pierre Sennès. He was indicted for “willful injury resulting in death without intent to give”, said his lawyer Laurent-Franck Lienard.T

    The SRPJ Nantes and the Inspectorate General of the National Police are investigating to clarify “the facts and determine in what circumstances the policeman used his weapon,” said Sennès.

    Placed in custody on Thursday noon, the policeman changed his first statement made at his hearing on Wednesday, announced his lawyer earlier. He now claims to have fired “by accident” his lawyer said.

    He had previously explained the “shooting because of the dangerousness of the driver and to protect people who could be near the path of the vehicle,” said Sennès. His version was contradicted by the inhabitants of the district.

    A witness who spoke to AFP said the car was stationary when the policeman opened fire. “He was shot at point blank range,” Jordan, one of Fofana’s friends, told the French daily Le Monde. “[He was killed] like a dog. We’re very angry with police.”

    Migrant youths have set fire to at least 52 cars, including the Socialist mayor’s personal vehicle. Contacted shortly after the events, Johanna Rolland did not wish to comment on the arson. There have meanwhile been more than a dozen arrests over the violence, including in Garges-les-Gonesse, in Paris.

    In 2005, riots erupted across the country following the deaths of two black teenagers who were electrocuted in a Paris suburb while hiding from the police.

    Last year riots broke out after a young black man in another Paris suburb suffered anal injuries during his arrest.

    In a separate incident, two off-duty French police officers, a husband and wife, were attacked on Wednesday night in front of their three-year-old daughter in a northeastern suburb of Paris.

    French security forces are frequent targets as they struggle to combat violent drug-dealing gangs. A police source said the attackers recognised the policewoman who had stopped them for an ID check in the crime-ridden suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois earlier.

    Marine Le Pen denounced the attack on the police couple and stated her suppport for law enforcement working in difficult circumstances. “Not to answer [to violence] is to let the state collapse and deliver it to the mobsters,” she said.

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