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Stock photo of French police officers

French police targeted by mortar fire

Published: September 9, 2019, 11:14 am


    It was a scene of real urban guerrilla warfare: While pursuing a car loaded with narcotics, on Sunday, September 8 in Grigny (Essonne), three police officers were targeted by mortar fire.

    As reported by LCI, the officials opened fire at least eight times in return in Essonne, a French department in the region of Île-de-France.

    It all started with an ordinary car inspection. The police asked the driver, who had committed a number of traffic violations, to stop. He refused to obey and fled, before abandoning his vehicle that had hit a concrete block.

    When the officers approached the car, they were targeted by a dozen individuals who pelted them with rocks, before receiving mortar fire. A reinforcement patrol arrived on the spot and one of the police officers used an LBD and his service weapon to try to fight back against the urban guerrillas.

    He was hit by mortar fire that has now resulted in him having hearing problems and several burns to his forearms. In the car which was being checked, the investigators found six platelets of cannabis resin.

    “It’s a real weapon [the mortar, ed]. It is a tube in which they put fireworks, big caliber, and the individuals light these fireworks in the direction of our colleagues. It is devastating,” Olivier Michelet, departmental secretary in Essonne from the SGP Police Unit, told BFMTV.

    The use of this light artillery weapon was already spotted in July, in the same city, during an altercation between police and inhabitants, according to BFMTV. The police are worried about the lack of staff in this ultra-sensitive migrant neighbourhood.

    In one year alone, a hundred officials left the department for only twenty replacements.

    On Sunday, July 14, the police station of Ulis in Essonne was attacked by about twenty individuals, who launched cobblestones and Molotov cocktails at the building. Vehicles had their windows broken.

    The police said they were afraid of the worst happening, reported Le Parisien. The facts took place in the night from Sunday to Monday, around two o’clock in the morning, when the area was in the grip of violence. Molotov cocktails were thrown directly at police accomodation. No injuries were reported but the vehicles parked in front of the building had broken windows.

    According to the Paris daily, this is the sixth time in three years that the building was attacked because it is near immigrant housing and on the ground floor. Quoted by Le Parisien, the Alliance police union says that “all these events show that the department of Essonne is a difficult department where violence is constantly present. What happened to the Ulis is the symbol. Attacking a police station is a serious act. Fortunately there were enough colleagues to deal with it this time. Because these rioters are focused and organised. But what will happen in the future?”.

    In July already the union warned that “the department was desperately short of staff to oppose these urban guerrilla scenes”.

    The mayor of the city says that these acts are “lamentable” but understandable because “there is a small gang for which it has become a tradition to attack the police station”. No individual was arrested after the fact in July however.

    On Sunday, July 14, the police had feared hydrochloric acid attacks because sales of the product had exploded before the weekend. Two shops in Essonne “had their stock of hydrochloric acid completely exhausted”.

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