French riots: Streets grow calmer as arrests on Sunday night fall

People pass by a wall illuminated by a burning barricade on which is written 'Police kills' in the center of Lyon, central France, Friday, June 30, 2023.
People pass by a wall illuminated by a burning barricade on which is written 'Police kills' in the center of Lyon, central France, Friday, June 30, 2023. Copyright Laurent Cipriani/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AFP
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Tens of thousands of police have been deployed to quell violent unrest that has rocked cities across France.


Tensions in France appear to be easing, with fewer than 160 people arrested on Sunday night in connection with riots, sparked by the killing of a teenage boy.

The relative calm following five nights of violent unrest offered some relief to French President Emmanuel Macron as he fights to get a grip on the situation. 

The interior ministry said 157 people were arrested overnight, down from over 700 arrests the night before and more than 1,300 on Friday night.

A 24-year-old firefighter died in Paris suburb Saint-Denis, tackling a vehicle fire. 

No formal link has been established between the blaze and the urban violence that has shaken cities across France, since the killing of 17-year-old Nahel M. by a police officer last Tuesday. 

The shooting of Nahel, reportedly of Algerian and Morrocan descent, has fed deep-seated complaints of police violence and systemic racism inside France. 

Authorities deployed 45,000 police and riot officers overnight from Sunday to Monday, three of whom were injured, said the Interior Ministry. It is not known how many on the other side were harmed. 

Some 350 buildings and 300 vehicles were damaged, according to local figures. 

Nahel's grandmother Nadia appealed for calm on Sunday, urging "people who are breaking things up" to stop. 

"We want these young people to be left alone. Nahel is dead. My daughter had just one child, she's lost, it's over, my daughter has no life left. And they made me lose my daughter and my grandson," she told BFMTV.

Nahel died last Tuesday near the Nanterre-Préfecture RER station, during a police check carried out by two police motorcyclists on the hire car he was driving.

One of the officers opened fire on him at point-blank range, fatally wounding him in the chest.

The perpetrator of the shooting justified his action by the teenager's refusal to comply, but an amateur video contradicted his account. 

The ensuing unrest has stunned the highest levels of government by sparking the worst riots France has seen in years.

Since Tuesday, many young people living in working-class neighbourhoods across the country have been venting their anger at the police and the state. They have clashed with police every night, ransacking public buildings and looting shops.

President Emmanuel Macron held a special security meeting Sunday night. He plans to meet with the heads of both houses of parliament on Monday and with the mayors of 220 towns and cities affected by the protests on Tuesday, according to an anonymous official. 

Macron also wants to start a detailed, longer-term assessment of the reasons that led to the unrest, they added.

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