Thursday 21 September 2017

Police fired upon by hooded gunmen in French city of Marseille hours before visit of Prime Minster

French intervention police take up position near the scene of a hostage taking in Paris last month, which left the country on a high terror alert
French intervention police take up position near the scene of a hostage taking in Paris last month, which left the country on a high terror alert

Lizzie Dearden

Gunmen in the French city of Marseille have reportedly shot at police with Kalashnikovs hours before the Prime Minister is due to visit.

Initial reports said the suspects were "hooded" in the Castellane area but had no details of possible casualties.

Witnesses said armed men fired Kalashnikovs into the air and 40 police officers were positioned on a roundabout.

Stefan De Vries, a French journalist, told Sky News: “The area is sealed now and heavily armed squad teams are in the area.

“There is a very high murder rate but almost all the murders are gang-related. Very few victims are civilians.”

Initial reports suggested the gunfire may have been linked to a rivalry between drug gangs and was not related to terrorism.

Le Figaro reported that Marseille's head of public safety, Pierre-Marie Bourniquel, went to the area but his car was shot at by fighting gang members as it approached.

"The police commander who was with him had to lie on the floor," said the newspaper. "The car was not hit but bullet holes were found two or three metres away from the vehicle in an embankment."

Manuel Valls was due to visit Marseille today for a tour and to outline the government's regeneration scheme, as well as moves to lower the crime rate and improve social cohesion.

The port has a reputation within France for high crime, drug trafficking and political corruption but has been trying to shake off its troubled image.

Independent News Service

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