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Hooded gunmen "fire on police" in Marseille

Witnesses reported hearing a burst of Kalashnikov fire.
Feb 9th 2015, 11:21 AM 15,258 35

FRENCH MEDIA IS reporting that shots have been fired at police in the southern city of Marseille, but that it is likely gang-related.

AFP reports that a police operation was under way in an estate in the French city of Marseille where residents said “Kalashnikov shots” were fired “in the air”, sources close to the case said, adding there were no victims.

According to an AFP photographer on site, special forces entered the La Castellane estate, which is known for being a drug trafficking hotspot.

Le Figaro reports that Pierre-Marie Bourniquel, director of the Marseille police, was targeted during the attack.

The area has been evacuated and schools closed.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls is due in the city later today for a report on crime.

The outbreak of violence in the notorious estate, where a 25-year-old was shot dead last month in a settling of scores, comes as Prime Minister Manuel Valls is due to visit the southern port city later on a trip focused on security issues.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the shots, but Marseille has for years had a reputation as a hotbed of crime that has prompted some politicians to call for the army to be sent in to police the city’s toughest neighbourhoods.

Police say many murders in the city are linked to turf wars between multiple rival gangs battling for control of the drugs trade in the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.

The violence, they say, is aggravated by the easy availability of high-calibre weapons, with Kalashnikov automatic rifles being the murder instrument of choice.

In 2013, Valls, who was then interior minister, had said that entire neighbourhoods were “abandoned to the dealers.”

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Paul Hosford


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