French Rioters Allegedly Target Mayor's Home With Burning Car

Prosecutors say it was attempted murder as unrest in and around Paris continues
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 2, 2023 9:35 AM CDT
French Rioters Allegedly Target Mayor's Home With Burning Car
A police officer enters the house of L'Hay-les-Roses mayor, outside Paris, Sunday, July 2, 2023. Y   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Young rioters clashed with police into early Sunday and targeted a mayor's home with a burning car as France saw a fifth night of unrest sparked by the police killing of a teenager, but overall violence appeared to lessen compared with previous nights. Police made 719 arrests nationwide by early Sunday after a mass security deployment aimed at quelling France's worst social upheaval in years, per the AP. The crisis posed a new challenge to President Emmanuel Macron's leadership and exposed deep-seated discontent in low-income neighborhoods over discrimination and lack of opportunity.

The 17-year-old whose death Tuesday spawned the anger was laid to rest Saturday in a Muslim ceremony in Nanterre, a Paris suburb where emotions over his loss remain raw. He has been identified publicly only by his first name, Nahel. As night fell Saturday over the French capital, a small crowd gathered on the Champs-Elysees to protest his death and police violence but met hundreds of officers with batons and shields guarding the avenue and its boutiques. And in the most jarring development, a burning car hit the veranda of the home belonging to the mayor of the Paris suburb of l'Hay-les-Roses.

Several schools, police stations, town halls, and stores have been targeted by fires or vandalism in recent days but an allegedly deliberate attack on a mayor's home is unusual. Mayor Vincent Jeanbrun said the attack occurred at 1:30am while his wife and two young children were sleeping and he was in the town hall monitoring the violence. "Hitting a low wall, the vehicle stopped ... before it could reach the veranda of the house," said a prosecutor, per CNN. "Only the front gate was hit, along with the family's vehicle." The mayor says his wife appears to have broken her shin while fleeing with their children, ages 5 and 7.

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Regional prosecutor Stephane Hardouin opened an investigation into attempted murder in the attack, telling French television that a preliminary investigation suggests the car was meant to ram the house and set it ablaze. He said a flame accelerant was found in a bottle in the car. In regard to the killing that set off the violence, video showed two officers at the window of Nahal's car, one with his gun pointed at the driver. As the teenager pulled forward, the officer fired once through the windshield. The officer accused of killing Nahel was given a preliminary charge of voluntary homicide.

(More France stories.)

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