Monday 19 March 2018

Le Pen blames 'leftists' after suspected arson at her Paris HQ

Marine Le Pen at a rally in Pageas, France, yesterday
Marine Le Pen at a rally in Pageas, France, yesterday

Charlotte England in Paris

Police are investigating a suspected arson attack on the Paris headquarters of far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

The Front National leader accused "leftists" of carrying out the attack, and news agency AFP said a group calling itself "Combat Xenophobia" contacted them to claim responsibility.

The ground floor of the central Paris building was targeted and graffiti mentioning Ms Le Pen's Front National was found nearby.

A police source said the damage - to a door and a doormat, according to AFP - was likely to be the result of a criminal act and not an accident.

The party's premises are higher up in the building.

Interior Minister Matthias Fekl condemned the attack. "These are unacceptable acts, the democratic debate must take place in the ballot box," Mr Fekl told RTL radio, without giving any details about the attack itself.

He added: "We have been in touch with the Front National candidate's team since last night and will see with them if it is necessary to strengthen security procedures."

Ms Le Pen told France 2 television she believed a leftist group was responsible, but she gave no detail and did not say why she believed one such group was responsible.

"I assume this is due to a small leftist group. These groups act in total impunity." she added, saying that the government should dissolve them.

Ms Le Pen recently provoked widespread anger by denying France was responsible for rounding up thousands of Jews to be sent to Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.

But despite courting controversy, she is seen as leading the first round of the presidential election at 24pc, with the vote scheduled for April 23.

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