Thu, Jul 05, 2018 - Page 7 News List

French minister calls for calm after night of violence

EXPLOSIVE:After police shot a young man at a road block, protesters threw Molotov cocktails and set fire to buildings across the city of Nantes

Reuters and AFP, NANTES, France

The French government yesterday called for calm after police in the western city of Nantes clashed overnight with protesters rioting over the death of a young driver who had tried to avoid a checkpoint and was shot by an officer.

The incident occurred at about 8:30pm on Tuesday when police stopped a vehicle over an infraction, local police chief Jean-Christophe Bertrand said.

The identity of the driver was “not clear and officers received orders to bring the driver to the police station,” he said.

The young man, in his early 20s, hit and slightly injured a policeman as he reversed his car away from the control point, another police source said.

“One of his colleagues then fired, hitting the young man who unfortunately died,” Bertrand said.

Police sources confirmed the young man was wounded during a police check while in a vehicle after he “refused to comply” with police requests.

He was hit in the carotid artery and declared dead on arrival at hospital, they said.

Protesters burned cars and threw Molotov cocktails at police, and smashed shops and set fire to several buildings across Nantes.

Steven, 24, who lives in the neighborhood of Breil, said that he had “heard explosions” and headed to investigate.

“I saw everything burning. There were fires in the bins, the cars. They were breaking everything. It lasted ages,” he said, adding that things later calmed down.

Violence also broke out in two other sensitive areas, Dervallieres and Malakoff, where vehicles were also set on fire.

The riots ended in the early hours of yesterday morning after police sent in reinforcements.

“I’m appealing for absolute calm, as the rule of law will be completely respected,” French Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet told RTL radio.

National police are investigating to clarify “the facts and determine in what circumstances the policeman used his weapon,” Nantes Public Prosecutor Pierre Sennes said.

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