Gunman kills three in suspected racist attack at Kurdish centre in Paris
A 69-year-old gunman opened fire at a Kurdish cultural center and a hair salon in Paris on Friday, killing three people and wounding three others, witnesses and prosecutors said.
The shots just before midday (1100 GMT) caused panic in rue d’Enghien in the trendy 10th district of capitalan area bustling with shops and restaurants that is inhabited by a large number of Kurds.
Witnesses told AFP the gunman, described by police as white, of French nationality and previously accused of racist violence, originally aimed at the cultural center of the Kurds before entering a hair salon where he was arrested.
Of the three injured, one is in intensive care and two are being treated for serious injuries, officials said.
The Kurdish community center, known as the Ahmet Kaya Center, is used by a charity that organizes concerts and exhibitions and helps the Kurdish community in the Paris area.
Clash with the police
Within hours of the attack, Kurdish protesters clashed with police, who used tear gas to disperse them as they tried to break through a barricade police deployed to protect the ministry. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who arrived at the scene.
Protesters threw objects at police while expressing anger over an attack they said was intentional and that France’s security services did too little to stop.
Several cars parked in the area as well as police cars had their windows smashed as protesters threw bricks.
The gunman, named by French media as William M., was involved in two previous assassinations in 2016 and 2021.
The retired train driver was initially convicted in the first case in the multicultural Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, but was released after an appeal, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau told the court. reporter without giving more details.
In the second case, he was charged with racist violence after allegedly attacking migrants in tents in the Bercy area of the city in December 2021, Beccuau added.
A police source told AFP at the time that at least two migrants were injured by a sword used in the attack.
“The French Kurds have been the target of a heinous attack in the heart of Paris,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter.
Authorities will likely face questions in the coming days about why the gunman was recently released on bail due to a criminal record.
He suffered a facial injury on Friday and was taken to hospital for treatment.
Darmanin told reporters at the scene that although the attacker was “obviously targeting foreigners”, it was “uncertain” that he intended to kill “especially the Kurds”.
“We still don’t know his exact motives,” he said.
The minister has repeatedly warned of the dangers of violent far-right groups in France.
Last month, 13 people from the far-right political world were ordered to stand trial for allegedly plotting to attack Macron.
The Democratic Council of the Kurds of France (CDK-F), which uses the cultural center as its headquarters, said in a statement that it considers the shooting a “terrorist attack”.
Some members of the Kurdish center cried and hugged each other for comfort after the attack.
“It’s starting over. You’re not protecting us. We’re being killed!” one of them cried with the police nearby.
Often described as the world’s largest people without a state, the Kurds are an ethnic Muslim group that stretches across Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.
The French Kurdish Democratic Council and the Kurds at the scene stressed that the shooting coincided with the 10th anniversary of the killing of three female Kurdish militiamen in Paris.
A Turkish man was charged with assassination on January 9, 2013, but he died while in custody before his trial.
Families of the victims have long criticized Turkey for masterminding the deaths of three women who were shot in the head and neck, and criticized France for not doing a thorough investigation.
“France’s Kurdish Democratic Council condemns as strongly as possible this despicable terrorist attack following numerous threats from Turkey, an ally of Daesh,” it said, using a name alternative to the Islamic State terrorist group.
Turkey conducts regular military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a terrorist group designated by the European Union and the United States – as well as Kurdish groups that Turkey accuses of. is an ally.
The PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.