'Clearly targeting foreigners': Three dead, several wounded after shooting in central Paris
The gunman opened fire in rue d'Enghien in Paris' 10th arrondissement.
PARIS: A shooter killed three people and wounded several others in a gun attack near a Kurdish cultural centre in Paris on Friday (Dec 23), the prosecutor's office said.
Multiple gunshots were fired in the Rue d'Enghien, a street lined with small shops and cafes in the capital's 10th arrondissement, sowing panic.
Armed police guarded a security cordon and several ambulances were at the scene, live television images showed.
"A gun attack has taken place. Thank you to the security forces for their swift action," tweeted deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire. "Thoughts for the victims and those who witnessed this drama."
An investigation into murder, manslaughter and aggravated violence has been opened, the Paris prosecutor's office said.
A 69-year-old man had been arrested and was in detention, and the incident was over, added the prosecutor's office.
Police did not indicate the motives of the alleged shooter.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told reporters on Friday that the gunman was "clearly targeting foreigners", adding that however that it was "not certain" that the man was aiming to kill "Kurds in particular".
The shooter was injured and "has been taken to hospital", the mayor of 10th district, Alexandra Cordebard, said at the scene where police have sealed off surrounding roads.
"There are three dead, one person in intensive care and two people with serious injuries, and the suspect, who was arrested, has also been injured, notably to the face," Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau told reporters.
The shots shortly before midday caused panic in the neighbourhood, a bustling area of shops, restaurants and bars.
Witnesses told AFP that the gunman initially targeted the Kurdish cultural centre before entering a nearby hairdressing salon where he was arrested by police.
The Kurdish community centre, called Centre Ahmet Kaya, is used by a charity that works to integrate the Kurdish population in the Paris region.
"There were people panicking, shouting to the police and pointing to the salon 'he's in there, he's in there, go in'," resident Emmanuel Boujenan told AFP.
He said he saw two people on the floor of the salon with leg wounds.
One witness told French news agency AFP that seven or eight shots had been fired. A second witness, speaking to BFM TV, said the suspected gunman was a white man who opened fire in silence.
The retired train driver was initially convicted over the first case in the multicultural Seine-Saint-Denis suburb of Paris, but freed on appeal, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau told reporters without giving further details.
In the second case, he was charged with racist violence after allegedly attacking migrants sleeping in tents in the Bercy area of the city in Dec 2021, Beccuau added.
At least two migrants were stabbed, a police source told AFP at the time.
"As for a racist motive for this case, this will obviously form part of our investigations which are starting now," she said.
The shooter was released on bail recently and suffered facial injuries on Friday, requiring hospital treatment.
France's specialised anti-terror prosecutor's office has not taken over the case so far, indicating that the triple murder is being treated as regular violent crime at this stage.
The far right seems to have struck again. With deadly consequences," senior left-wing MP Clementine Autain wrote on Twitter. "When will those at the head of the state take this terrorist threat seriously?"
But the Kurdish Democratic Council of France (CDK-F), which uses the cultural centre as its headquarters, said in a statement that it considered the shooting to be a "terror attack".
Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne called the shooting an "odious attack" and sent her "full support to the victims and their loved ones."
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has repeatedly warned about the danger of violent far-right groups in France.
KURDS IN FRANCE
In one of several cases in recent years, 13 people from far-right political circles were ordered to stand trial last month for allegedly plotting to attack President Emmanuel Macron.
Some members of the Kurdish centre could be seen weeping and hugging each other for comfort after the attack.
"It's starting again. You aren't protecting us. We're being killed!" one of them cried to nearby police.
Often described as the world's largest people without a state, the Kurds are a Muslim ethnic group spread across Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.
The Kurdish Democratic Council of France underlined that the shooting coincided with the 10th anniversary of the murder of three female Kurdish militants in Paris.
A Turkish man was charged with the assassinations on Jan 9, 2013, but he died in custody before being tried.
The victims' families have long pointed the finger at Turkey for masterminding the deaths of the three women, who were shot in the head and neck, and at France for failing to investigate properly.
"The Kurdish Democratic Council of France condemns in the strongest possible terms this vile terrorist attack which occurred following multiples threats from Turkey, an ally of Daesh," it said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State terror group.
Turkey launches regular military operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - a designated terrorist group by the European Union and the United States - as well as Kurdish groups it accuses of being allies.
The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.