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Police station outside Paris targeted in fireworks attack

Around 40 people staged an hour-long fireworks attack against a police station outside Paris early Sunday, authorities said, the latest in a string of incidents targeting security forces in recent months.

Two officers were on a cigarette break outside the station in Champigny-sur-Marne, around 12 kilometres (8 miles) east of the capital, when the assailants, some carrying steel bars, suddenly arrived shortly before midnight.

The officers barely managed to barricade themselves inside when the crowd began attacking the entrance and several police vehicles, but nobody was injured during the raid.

The city’s mayor, Laurent Jeanne, told AFP the police might have been targeted in retaliation for a recent scooter accident allegedly caused by police, “which has not been proven”.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted that “these little dealers don’t scare anyone, and will not discourage our anti-drug work”, though police officials did not identify the attackers.

No arrests have been made, but prosecutors said Sunday that surveillance cameras were being reviewed for clues.

Jeanne acknowledged that drug trafficking was a problem in the Bois-L’Abbe neighbourhood, where the station is located.

But police union officials said the attack underscored a growing threat against law enforcement in depressed suburbs of Paris and other large cities.

Several other police stations across France have been targetted in similar fireworks attacks this year, and the Champigny-sur-Marne station had already been hit by youths wielding fireworks, most recently last April.

“But that was just kids acting out during the lockdown” imposed to curb the coronavirus, Jeanne said.

“This was something totally different — they wanted to physically injure these two officers,” he said.

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The assault came after two officers were attacked and shot with their own guns in a Paris suburb last Wednesday, prompting renewed calls for greater efforts to tackle crime and insecurity.

“There is no longer any respect for law enforcement, and unfortunately the government has not succeeded in changing this trend,” Frederic Lagache of the Alliance police union said Sunday.

“What will it take for the government to commit to protecting its security forces?” he said.

Tensions have long run high between police and residents in poor cities, often with large immigrant communities, where protests erupted this summer over claims of brutality and racism in their ranks.

(AFP)

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