Paris — Almost 200 people were arrested in France Wednesday night as angry crowds attacked police stations, town halls, schools and public transport in several towns across the country. It was the second night of violence following thewho allegedly refused to comply with an order to stop his car.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said Thursday that 170 officers were injured in Wednesday night's clashes and 180 people were arrested.
"This wasn't about small protest. It was about a small group of people deciding to attack the symbols of the republic," Darmanin said, vowing to restore "justice, calm and freedom." He said 40,000 police would be deployed around the country Thursday night amid fears of more violence.
"The professionals of disorder must go home," Darmanin warned. "I want everyone to know that, tonight, public order will be restored."
In a tweet, the U.S. Embassy in Paris urged Americans in the French capital region to "avoid mass gatherings and areas of significant police activity as they can turn violent and result in clashes," and to keep friends or family aware of their whereabouts.
The police chief in Nanterre, where the shooting happened, said Thursday that the use of a weapon in the incident had not been justified. The officer involved in the fatal encounter has been placed under formal investigation for murder and is being held in custody.
The chaos overnight left debris on the streets of a number of towns and cities, and three storeys of an apartment building were burned in Villeurbanne, near Lyon. All seven police cars in the town of Neuilly sur Marne, near Paris, were torched, along with a tramway in Clamart and part of the city hall building in Evreux.
A separate investigation was underway to determine the circumstances of the teen, who has been identified as Nahel, refusing to comply with the police's order to halt his vehicle.
French lawmakers held a minute's silence Wednesday, "in memory of Nahel, in support of his parents, and loved ones," according to the parliament's speaker, while Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne condemned the officer's decision to open fire.
Borne told parliament "justice will be done" with regard to the shooting, which she said clearly "did not conform to the rules of engagement" of the French police.
French news agency AFP said it had authenticated video showing two police officers standing by the car, which is not moving, as one is seen pointing a weapon at the driver. The police officer then appears to fire as the car quickly drives away. The vehicle then rolls to a stop just a few yards away.
Nahel was shot in the chest, police have confirmed.
The officer who opened fire performed CPR on Nahel, but failed to revive the teen. There were two other people in the vehicle, one of whom was arrested while the other fled and remains wanted in connection with the incident.
No weapons or narcotics were found in the vehicle, police said.
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