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France deploys 45,000 officers amid riots over teen’s killing by police

France's Interior Ministry says it has issued instructions for the complete shutdown of all public bus and tram services in the country before sunset Friday as the government combats rioting triggered by the deadly police shooting of a 17-year-old.

Nahel M., 17, was fatally shot by police during traffic stop in Paris suburb on Tuesday

More clashes in France after deadly police shooting

1 day ago

Duration 2:09

Violent protests and mass arrests continue across France following the police shooting of a teenager during a traffic stop on the outskirts of Paris. One officer has been detained on homicide charges.

France's interior minister said on Friday the coming hours would be crucial as he sent 45,000 police into the streets following three nights of riots since an officer shot dead a teenager at a traffic stop in a working-class suburb of Paris.

The violence, in which buildings and vehicles have been torched and stores looted, has plunged President Emmanuel Macron into the gravest crisis of his leadership since the Yellow Vest protests that started in 2018.

Unrest has flared nationwide, including in cities such as Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg and Lille, as well as Paris where Nahel M., a 17-year-old of Algerian and Moroccan descent, was shot on Tuesday in the Nanterre suburb. His death, which was caught on video, has reignited longstanding complaints by poor, racially mixed, urban communities of police violence and racism.

"The next hours will be decisive and I know I can count on your flawless efforts," Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wrote to firefighters and police officers, seeking to quell the unrest that has been breaking out after nightfall.

He asked local authorities to halt bus and tram traffic from 9 p.m. local time across France.

Asked on TF1's main evening television news program whether the government could declare a state of emergency, Darmanin said: "Quite simply, we're not ruling out any hypothesis and we'll see after tonight what the president of the republic chooses."

People in military gear ride an alternative vehicle in the street as other soldiers walk behind and a fire burns.

Over 900 arrested

Some 40,000 officers had been deployed Thursday night. More than 200 of them were injured. Darmanin said more than 900 people were arrested following Thursday's unrest, saying their average age was 17.

While so far the worst of the violence has been confined to city suburbs, any sign it is spreading into the centres of France's biggest cities would mark a significant escalation.

Police started clearing protesters from the iconic central Paris square of Place de la Concorde on Friday evening after an impromptu demonstration.

Looters ransacked shops including an Apple store in Strasbourg on Friday, a local official said. A source told Reuters several Casino supermarkets had also been looted.

A fire on a street separates protesters from police officers and vechicles.

Events cancelled amid violence

In the Chatelet Les Halles shopping mall in central Paris, a Nike shoe store was broken into, and several people were arrested after store windows were smashed along the adjacent Rue de Rivoli shopping street, police said.

Several events, including two concerts at the Stade de France on the outskirts of the capital, have been cancelled. Tour de France organizers say they are ready to adapt to any situation when the race enters the country on Monday after starting in the Spanish city of Bilbao.

In the southern city of Marseille, France's second largest, authorities banned demonstrations set for Friday, and encouraged restaurants to close outdoor areas early. They said public transport would stop at 7 p.m.

Police said they had dispersed small groups in the city and arrested 36 people. Two police officers were wounded. A police helicopter flew overhead.

Protesters, some hold up signs, father at a public square.

Macron denies systemic racism in police forces

Macron left a European Union summit in Brussels early to attend a second cabinet crisis meeting in two days. He has asked social media to remove "the most sensitive" footage of rioting and to disclose identities of users fomenting violence.

Darmanin met representatives from Meta, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok. Snapchat said it had zero tolerance for content that promoted violence.

A friend of the victim's family, Mohamed Jakoubi, who watched Nahel grow up as a child, the rage was fuelled by a sense of injustice in the suburbs after incidents of police violence against minority ethnic communities, many from former French colonies.

"We are fed up, we are French, too. We are against violence, we are not scum," he said.

Macron denies there is systemic racism inside law enforcement agencies.

People run through smoke.

Public transit, cars torched

Videos on social media showed urban landscapes ablaze. A tram was set alight in the eastern city of Lyon and 12 buses were gutted in a depot in Aubervilliers, northern Paris.

In Nanterre on the capital's outskirts overnight into Friday, protesters torched cars, barricaded streets and hurled projectiles at police following an earlier peaceful vigil.

The energy minister said several staff of power distribution firm Enedis were injured by stones during clashes. The Interior Ministry said 79 police posts were attacked overnight, as well as 119 public buildings including 34 town halls and 28 schools.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Macron on Friday and acknowledged "the difficult situation" in France, according to a readout of the discussion released by the prime minister's office.

With files from CBC News

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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