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Three dead after shooting at Kurdish centre in Paris

A 69-year-old has been arrested following a suspected racist attack in the French capital.

LAST UPDATE | 23 Dec 2022

A 69-YEAR-OLD gunman opened fire at a Kurdish cultural centre and a hairdressing salon in central Paris today, killing three people and injuring three others, witnesses and prosecutors said.

The shots shortly before midday caused panic in Rue d’Enghien in the trendy 10th district of the capital, a bustling area of shops and restaurants that is home to a large Kurdish population.

The shooter was suspected of attacking at least two migrants with a knife in a Paris camp on 8 December 2021, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau told reporters.

In that attack the Frenchman, a retired train driver, was also believed to have damaged several tents in the migrant camp located at the Bercy park in eastern Paris, she said.

He was subsequently charged with premeditated armed violence with a racist motive, and placed in detention, the prosecutor said, adding that the man had been released only recently.

She said the question of whether today’s attack was motivated by racism “will obviously form part of our investigations which are starting now with the deployment of large numbers of people,” she said.

“We saw an old white man enter, then start shooting in the Kurdish cultural centre, then he went to the hairdresser’s next door,” Romain, who works in a nearby restaurant, told AFP by telephone.

Resident Emmanuel Boujenan told AFP: “There were people panicking, shouting to the police and pointing to the salon ‘he’s in there, he’s in there, go in’.”

He said he saw two people on the floor of the salon with leg wounds.

The Kurdish community centre, called Centre Ahmet Kaya, is used by a charity that works to integrate the Kurdish population in the Paris region.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered his condolences after the attack.

“My deepest sympathies go out to the victims of the attack at the Kurdish cultural center in Paris,” Blinken wrote on Twitter.

“My thoughts are with the members of the Kurdish community and people of France on this sad day.” 

Far-right attack? 

The gunman was described by police sources as “Caucasian”, of French nationality, and known for two previous attempted murders in 2016 and 2021.

His motives remain unclear, but his identity and his target immediately raised suspicions that the shooting could have been racially motivated.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has repeatedly warned about the danger of violent far-right groups in France.

Mathilde Panot, parliamentary head of the hard-left France Unbowed political party, immediately pointed the finger at the far-right, calling it a “racist attack.”

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.


Some members of the Kurdish centre could be seen weeping and hugging each other for comfort.

“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 but non-Arab ethnic group spread across Syria, Iraq and Iran, which has faced persecution and violence.

A shopkeeper in the area told AFP on condition of anonymity that she heard seven or eight shots, saying “it was total panic. We locked ourselves inside.”

The Paris prosecutor’s office said an investigation had been opened and that “a man aged between 60 and 70 has been arrested and is in custody”.

“His identity is in the process of being checked,” it added.

News of the shooting set nerves jangling in a city that has been repeatedly targeted by Islamist terror groups since 2015.

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