Three people were killed and three others wounded, one critically, in a shooting at a Kurdish cultural center in Paris, according to the French government.
The French press reported on Friday morning that a 69-year-old man opened fire on a group of people outside the Ahmet-Kaya center on Rue d’Enghien in the 10th arrondissement. Furthermore, shots were fired at a hairdresser’s and a restaurant in the neighborhood.
The prosecution reports that police detained the alleged gunman, who had previous convictions for assault and possession of an illegal weapon, shortly after the shooting and seized a weapon. The man was taken to the hospital after suffering a facial injury.
According to Laure Beccuau, the Paris prosecutor, one woman, and two men were killed, while three men were injured in the attack. “There is no evidence at this stage to link [the suspect] to any extremist ideological movement,” the prosecutor stated.
A tweet from French President Emmanuel Macron stated that “the Kurds of France” had been “the target of a vile attack in the heart of Paris”. During the statement, the French president expressed his condolences for the victims, the wounded, and their families and thanked the police.
According to Le Monde, all of the victims were members of the Kurdish community and had died both inside and outside of the cultural center. Agit Polat, a spokesperson for the center, asserted that the French authorities had “once again failed to protect us … For us, this is a terrorist attack.”
Several hundred Kurds demonstrated outside the center and in the nearby streets on Friday afternoon. They clashed violently with security forces at times, threw rocks, and set fire to garbage bins. Police responded with tear gas, and 11 officers were injured, according to police.
There will be a further demonstration by Kurdish organizations in France on Saturday at the Place de la République in the capital.
In January 2013, three Kurdish feminists, including Sakine Cansz, a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were murdered at a Kurdish information center near the cultural center. A Turkish national, Mer Güney, who was suspected of killing them, died of a brain tumor in 2016 while he was being arraigned in Paris.
As French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin noted at the scene of Friday’s shooting, “it is not certain that the gunman was specifically targeting the Kurdish community”, but more likely “foreigners in general.” Darmanin believes that after he had been questioned by the police, there should be a better understanding of his motivations.
Apparently, a retired train conductor, Beccuau said the man was released from jail on 12 December following a year’s pre-trial detention, the maximum allowed under the law. In French media reports, he was awaiting trial for allegedly attacking migrants with a sword.
A December 2021 attack on a camp in the 12th arrondissement resulted in two Sudanese men requiring hospital treatment for their injuries. Until he was overpowered, the man slashed six tents with a sword.
According to the Paris prosecutor, the man had previously been convicted twice: in 2016, for attempted manslaughter, and in 2017, for illegal possession of a weapon. According to Le Parisien, he told officers during his arrest on Friday that he “does not like Kurds”.
In addition to a murder investigation, voluntary manslaughter investigations have also been launched, according to Beccuau, adding that there is a possibility that racism may have been involved in the crime, which is “obviously part of the investigation ”.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, announced that psychological assistance would be provided to those affected by the incident.
A shopkeeper in the street told Agence France-Presse that seven or eight shots had been fired. “It was just complete panic – everyone locked themselves in,” said the woman.
A restaurant owner in the street reported seeing “an old white man enter the cultural center and open fire. Then he went into the hairdressing salon next door.”
A Kurdish activist, Murat Roni, described the center as “like a Kurdish embassy in Paris … a meeting place for cultural events, political discussions, help with immigration procedures – a building where all Kurds could meet”.
Islamist extremists carried out a series of deadly attacks in 2015 and 2016, and France remains on high alert for any violence associated with terrorism.