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Grandmother of teen killed in France traffic stop pleads for end to rioting after mayor’s home targeted

The grandmother of a teenager shot dead during a police traffic stop in a Paris suburb pleaded for the rioting to stop Sunday, the sixth straight night of unrest, while authorities expressed outrage over the targeting of a mayor's home with a burning car as his family slept.

Over 3,000 arrested as protests continue over shooting of 17-year-old in Paris suburb

A police officer stands in front of the smashed gate of a home.

The grandmother of a teenager shot dead during a police traffic stop in a Paris suburb pleaded for the rioting to stop on Sunday, the sixth straight night of unrest, while authorities expressed outrage over the targeting of a mayor's home with a burning car as his family was sleeping.

The grandmother of the 17-year-old, known publicly by his first name, Nahel, said in a telephone interview with French news broadcaster BFM TV, "Don't break windows, buses … schools. We want to calm things down.

"I'm telling them [the rioters] to stop," said the grandmother, who was identified only as Nadia and spoke a day after the teen's funeral.

"Nahel is dead. My daughter is lost … she doesn't have a life anymore."

Protests have erupted across France since the teen, who was reportedly of north African descent, was shot Tuesday in the chest while driving away from a traffic stop in Nanterre, a working-class suburb 15 kilometres from central Paris.

Nahel's grandmother said she was angry at the officer who killed her grandson, but not at police in general, and expressed faith in the justice system as France faces its worst social upheaval in years.

The officer accused of killing Nahel was given a preliminary charge of voluntary homicide.

Thirteen people who didn't comply with traffic stops were fatally shot by French police last year, and three this year, prompting demands for more accountability.

'People ram-raided my home,' mayor says

Also on Sunday, Vincent Jeanbrun, mayor of the southern suburb of L'Hay-les-Roses, said his wife and one of their children, aged five and seven, were injured as they fled their home in the early hours.

During the incident at his home, Jeanbrun, from the conservative Les Republicains party, was at the town hall monitoring the violence. The town hall has been the target of attacks for several nights since the shooting of Nahel, and has been protected with barbed wire and barricades.

"At 1:30 a.m., as I was in the town hall just like the two previous nights, people ram-raided my home before starting a fire to torch my house, where my wife and my two young children were sleeping," Jeanbrun said on his Twitter account.

"While attempting to shield them and fleeing the attackers, my wife and one of my children got hurt."

Riot police walk on a street.

Jeanbrun said the attack represented a new stage of "horror and ignominy" in the unrest, and he urged the government to impose a state of emergency.

The local prosecutor told reporters that an investigation into attempted murder had been opened. No suspects have been arrested.

The prosecutor said the woman was injured as she fled through the backyard of the house.

As night fell Saturday over the French capital, a small crowd gathered on the Champs-Élysées to protest police violence and the shooting death of the teen. But they were met by hundreds of officers with batons and shields guarding the avenue and its boutiques.

In a less chic neighbourhood of northern Paris, protesters set off firecrackers and lit barricades on fire as police shot back with tear gas and stun grenades.

Skirmishes erupted in the Mediterranean city of Marseille but appeared less intense than the night before, according to the Interior Ministry. A bolstered police contingent arrested 55 people there.

WATCH | Thousands of police officers dispatched across France to quell violence:

Mayor’s home targeted in France riots

5 hours ago

Duration 1:49

Riots that followed the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old boy saw a vehicle get driven into a mayor’s home and then set on fire over the weekend. The teen victim’s grandmother is pleading for an end to the violence.

Across the country, arrests were lower than the night before. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin attributed that to "the resolute action of security forces." Police made 719 arrests by early Sunday.

Darmanin said the latest overnight riots had been less intense, after 45,000 police were deployed following Saturday's funeral of Nahel in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. Since he was shot on Tuesday, rioters have torched cars and looted stores, but they've also targeted state institutions — town halls and police stations.

Amid the unrest, a Second World War monument in Nanterre commemorating Holocaust victims and members of the French resistance was vandalized on the sidelines of a silent march on Thursday to pay tribute to Nahel.

The slogans included "Don't forgive or forget" and "Police, rapists, assassins." The European Jewish Congress denounced the vandalism as a "shameful act of disrespect for the memory of the victims of the Holocaust."

More than 3,000 people have been detained overall since Nahel's death.

The mass police deployment has been welcomed by some frightened residents of targeted neighbourhoods and shop owners whose stores have been ransacked, but it has further frustrated those who see police behaviour as the core of France's current crisis.

President Emmanuel Macron was holding a special security meeting Sunday night, and it was not clear whether he would make public comments. Macron has delayed what would have been the first state visit to Germany by a French president in 23 years, starting Sunday evening.

With files from Reuters, CBC

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