Two separate incidents involving the fatal shooting of crime suspects by French police have led to several nights of rioting and armed attacks on police and police stations. Relatives of the victims issued an appeal for calm on Monday.
The first spate of rioting began on Thursday night in Grenoble, a city at the foot of the French Alps. Police were called to deal with an armed robbery at a casino in a nearby village and the ensuing car chase led back to Grenoble. Karim Barouda, 27, opened fire on police after heading back to the suburb in which he lived and was killed in the gunfight which followed. One policeman was injured and his accomplice escaped on foot. Sporadic and mainly stone-throwing attacks on police went on throughout the night.
The situation deteriorated over the next three days, with rioting youths attacking police with rocks, Molotov cocktails and guns. Several people were arrested and charged with attempted murder and arms were seized. Many cars were burned and businesses were looted and burned. Hundreds of CRS riot police were drafted into the area in an attempt to calm the situation down and several police stations were targeted.
A police station in a northern suburb of the city was attacked on Sunday night by Molotov cocktail-throwing rioters. There were no injuries and the fire was extinguished by police officers.
Interior Minister Bruce Hortefeux visited Grenoble during the violence and declared that he intended to “Restore public order. There is a clear and simple reality in this country which is that thugs and delinquents have no future because the state always ends up on the winning side.”
Serious rioting also broke out on Friday evening in the small town of Thésée in the Loir-et-Cher region following a car chase by Gendarmes which ended in a man being shot at a road block set up to catch him. The man, a member of an itinerant gypsy convoy, had been surprised by police whilst robbing a teenager who was withdrawing cash from an ATM. He drove his car at police, dragging one of them for over 500 meters. Injured in the shootout, the suspect’s body was found several miles away, where he had apparently died from his wounds.
Surrounding villages then witnessed a two-day vendetta against the police by the gypsies, during which cars were burned as well as community buildings and shops. In Saint-Aignan, a large group of masked men attacked a police station with Molotov cocktails, iron bars and axes after terrorizing the local population. GIGN counter-terrorism units and police helicopters equipped with thermal cameras were deployed to the area yesterday.
Police investigations into the events of the last few days have been opened and although a relative and precarious calm now reigns over the riot areas, heavily-equipped police units and riot police are still patrolling the streets.