Security forces sent to deal with Nantes riots after police shooting

Security forces are being dispatched to Nantes, western France, following a second night of rioting and violence after police shot a young man dead during a stop-and-search operation.

A dozen people were arrested after protesters fought with police and set fire to vehicles and buildings, including shops, a community centre and a library.

The prime minister, Édouard Philippe, visited Nantes on Thursday and promised “the fullest transparency” over the death. The French government promised police reinforcements, and said the violence and vandalism would not be tolerated.

The victim, named as Aboubakar F, was allegedly under surveillance in a drug-trafficking investigation when the rented Nissan he was driving was stopped by police at around 8.30pm on Tuesday in the Breil district.

Le Monde reported that Aboubakar F was wanted by police, saying there had been a 2017 arrest warrant for organised robberies, and that he had given a false name.

He was not carrying identity papers, as required in France, so police tried to arrest him. Officers said he was hit in the neck by a single bullet after reversing his car into one of the officers.

However, a number of witnesses contested police claims, saying the car was stationary when police fired and that no officer was injured.

A woman who filmed the incident but did not wish to give her name told French journalists: “There were no police behind the car. He didn’t hit anyone. There was only the one gunshot.”

The incident has strained tense relations between youths and police in France’s urban housing estates.

On Wednesday night, protesters set fire to a community centre on the Malakoff housing estate, destroying more than 10,000 books and children’s games.

The town hall has vowed to rebuild the centre, but Marie-Gaby, a resident, said locals were devastated.

“They’ve attacked a symbol of the area. Apart from the library, this was a wonderful gathering place for children and the elderly. There were activities, association meetings, and things offered to youngsters who couldn’t go on holiday,” she told 20 Minutes.

Another resident, who was close to tears, said: “In two nights they’ve destroyed everything built in 20 years, but we won’t give up.”


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