Clashes erupted between protesters and police in central Paris on Saturday as members of the local Kurdish community took to the streets to call for justice after the fatal shooting at a Kurdish cultural center on Friday.
Live footage from BFMTV, the affiliate of CNN, and news agencies Reuters and AFP shows damaged roads and smoke billowing from cars as protesters clash with police.
The ongoing skirmishes are taking place near Place de la République in the heart of the French capital, not far from the Kurdish cultural center Ahmet-Kaya, the scene of Friday’s shooting.
CNN has reached out to the Paris Police Department and Kurdish Community Center for comment.
A gunman killed three people and wounded three others in a possible racist attack on the cultural center on Rue d’Enghien in central Paris on Friday.
All three victims who lost their lives were Kurds, the center’s lawyer confirmed to CNN.
A march in central Paris on Saturday organized after the shooting was canceled ahead of schedule by the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDKF) due to the clashes.
“In order to avoid damage to Place de la République and injuries to people, we (the CDKF) put an end to the march,” spokesman Berivan Firat told BFMTV on Saturday, adding that the group will no longer be held responsible will the actions of the protesters.
The march was originally scheduled to start at Place de la République and had been approved by the Paris Police Department.
Shortly after the march began, it turned violent when police fired tear gas, Firat told BFMTV.
Many protesters remain at Place de la République and Place de la Bastille, the planned end point of the march, even after the event was cancelled. The clashes at Place de Bastille have now subsided, with some cars being turned upside down and burned, according to live footage from BFMTV.
Paris Police Chief Laurent Nuñez was scheduled to meet with leaders of the Kurdish community at 10 a.m. local time today at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, Paris Police said in a statement.
On Friday, Darmanin said France would ensure the rights of Kurds who wanted to protest and promised to step up policing near Kurdish sites.
The suspected attacker in Friday’s attack, a 69-year-old Frenchman with a long criminal record, has been arrested.
He does not belong to any right-wing extremist group that is monitored by the police, Darmanin told journalists on site. “He (the suspect) clearly wanted to take it out on foreigners,” the minister added.
Although the shooting was not classified as a terrorist attack, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau said Friday investigators are not ruling out possible “racial motives” behind the shootings.
“When it comes to racist motives, of course those elements are part of the investigation that’s just started,” Beccuau said.
French President Macron took to Twitter to deplore the “heinous attack” in which “the Kurds of France were targeted”.