Clashes between protesters and police have broken out in central Paris on Saturday, as members of the local Kurdish community took to the streets to call for justice following Friday’s deadly shooting at a Kurdish cultural center.
Live images from CNN’s affiliate BFMTV, as well as news agencies Reuters and AFP show damaged streets and smoke rising from cars as demonstrators clash with police.
The skirmishes, which are ongoing, are taking place in the area near Place de la République in the heart of the French capital, not far from the Ahmet-Kaya Kurdish cultural center, the site of Friday’s shooting.
CNN has reached out to the Paris Police department and the Kurdish community center for comment.
A gunman killed three people and injured three others in an attack with possible racist underpinnings at the cultural center on Rue d’Enghien in central Paris 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 in the aftermath of the shooting, has been called off earlier than planned by the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDKF) due to the clashes.
“To avoid damages at the Place de la République and people getting injured, we (the CDKF) have put an end to the march,” spokesperson Berivan Firat told BFMTV Saturday, adding that from now on the group will no longer be held responsible for the actions of protesters.
The march was originally scheduled to start at the Place de la République and had been authorized by the Paris Police department.
Things turned violent shortly after the march began with police firing tear gas, Firat told BFMTV.
Many protesters remain at Place de la République and Place de la Bastille, the scheduled end point of the march, even after the event was canceled. Clashes at Place de Bastille have since died down, with some cars turned upside down and burnt, according to live images from BFMTV.
Paris police chief Laurent Nuñez was scheduled to meet with leaders of the Kurdish community today at 10 a.m. local time, at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, Paris Police said in a statement.
On Friday, Darmanin said that France will ensure the rights of the Kurds who wanted to protest and vowed to increase policing around Kurdish sites.
The suspected attacker in Friday’s attack, a 69-year-old French man with a long criminal record, has been arrested.
He was not part of any far-right groups monitored by the police, Darmanin told journalists at the scene. “He (the suspect) clearly wanted to take it out on foreigners,” the minister added.
While the shooting has not been designated a terrorist attack, Paris Prosecutor Laure Beccuau said Friday that investigators are not ruling out possible “racist motivations” behind the shooting.
“When it comes to racist motivations, of course these elements are part of the investigation that was just launched,” Beccuau said.
French President Macron on Twitter deplored the “heinous attack” where “the Kurds of France have been the target.”