A man killed at least three people and wounded three others in a shooting at a Kurdish cultural center and nearby establishments in Paris this Friday (23). The 69-year-old suspect is already in police custody and has been referred for questioning.
According to the newspaper Le Monde, the three dead were Kurdish militants — people descended from ancient Persia who today make up the world’s largest stateless nation. They were shot inside and in front of the cultural center, called Ahmet-Kaya.
When commenting on the case, Ahmet Kaya spokesperson, Agit Polat, referred the episode to the murder of three other Kurdish activists in Paris in 2013. “Once again, the French authorities failed to protect us. it is a terrorist attack. It is part of the tense climate intentionally maintained by Turkey,” he declared, referring to the repeated offensives that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been carrying out on Kurdish bases in northern Syria and Iraq.
According to broadcaster BFM, the national anti-terrorism office of the Paris prosecutor’s office is awaiting the first judicial hearing to determine whether it will take over the case. The head of the agency, Laure Beccuau, said that she is evaluating the possibility that the crime was motivated by racism – the elderly man is accused of two other cases of the type.
The most recent of these occurred last December, when the suspect destroyed several tents at a refugee camp in Bercy, in the 12th arrondissement, with a saber, injuring two Sudanese in the process.
According to the prosecution, he was found guilty of one of these crimes, but was released days ago after his lawyers appealed to a higher court.
This Friday’s attack took place on rue d’Enghien, in the 10th arrondissement, shortly before 12:00 local time (08:00 GMT). According to the mayor of the city, Alexandra Cordebard, the attacker first broke into a Kurdish community center, went to a restaurant across the street and then to a hairdresser. He was then taken to the hospital in a state of “relative emergency”.
One resident, Emmanuel Boujenan, told AFP that it was at the hairdresser that the suspect was arrested. “People panicked, screaming for the police and saying: ‘He’s over there, he’s over there, come in,'” he said, adding that he saw two people on the floor of the establishment with injuries to their legs.
The shots caused panic among residents of the neighborhood, a busy area, where there are many shops, bars and restaurants – a local merchant told the same news agency that he heard seven or eight shots.
The police closed off the area and asked the population to avoid going there. According to the newspaper Le Figaroa riot has formed around the cordon, and while some of the pedestrians ask the authorities for information, others insist on circulating around the restricted area.
Police have yet to comment on the type of weapon used by the suspect or whether it had legal registration. French legislation on gun ownership is considered one of the strictest in Europe — only those who want to practice shooting as a sport and certain individuals can apply for a license.
The requisition process includes a psychological assessment, and weapons need to be locked away, with ammunition away from where they are stored. Even so, the State has faced problems with the growth of illegally possessed firearms.
A report from Statistical Service of the French Ministry of Internal Security (SSMSI) released earlier this year showed that, in 2021, there was a 13% increase in racist, xenophobic, and anti-religious crimes and offenses reported to the police compared to 2019. The most common profile among victims is men aged 25 to 54 , most of them African immigrants.
The government warns, however, that the issue is likely to run much deeper, as most victims tend not to report such occurrences officially.