France arrests 600 in latest clashes over murder of teenager

(Bloomberg) – More than 600 people have been arrested in France in the third consecutive night of street violence following the police killing of a teenager in a Paris suburb.

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The majority of those arrested on Thursday night were between 14 and 18 years old, Agence France-Presse reported.

Protesters targeted municipal buildings, such as town halls and libraries in Marseille and in the Seine-Saint-Denis department north of Paris. A hotel caught fire in Roubaix in the north of France and some stores were vandalized, particularly in the center of Paris, according to AFP.

President Emmanuel Macron is due to hold another crisis meeting on Friday afternoon, AFP reported, citing his office.

Anger erupted across the country after 17-year-old Nahel was shot and killed at close range in his car on Tuesday in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris. Video posted on social media showed two police officers leaning into the car, one of them firing as the driver drove away. Authorities have not released Nahel’s last name.

The officer who fired was charged with murder and remanded in custody. Pascal Prache, the Nanterre prosecutor, said Thursday that his office had determined that the legal conditions for the use of a weapon were “not met”.

Nahel’s mother, identified only as Mounia, said in an interview with France 5 that she didn’t blame the police. “I blame one person, the one who took my son’s life,” she said.

Earlier Thursday afternoon, 6,000 people took part in a march in Nanterre in memory of Nahel.

Authorities have dramatically increased the number of security forces ahead of Thursday night’s protests, mobilizing 40,000 officers across the country, including 5,000 in Paris. Bus and tram services were suspended from 9 p.m. in Île-de-France.

Macron condemned the acts of violence in a tweet on Thursday, calling them “unjustifiable”.

The unrest echoes riots that erupted for weeks in 2005 after two boys were killed at an electrical substation following a police chase, and has shed light on French police and long-simmering tensions in the country’s poorest suburbs.

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