Clashes broke out for a second day in Paris on Saturday between police and members of the Kurdish community angry at the killing on Friday of three members of their community.
Cars were overturned, at least one vehicle was burned and small fires set alight near Republic Square, the traditional venue for demonstrations in the city where Kurds earlier held a peaceful protest.
Paris police chief Laurent Nunez said there had been a sudden violent turn in the protest but it was not yet clear why.
Speaking on news channel BFM TV, Nunez said a few dozen protestors were responsible for the violence, adding there had been 11 arrests and around 30 minor injuries.
As some demonstrators left the square they threw projectiles at police who responded with tear gas. Skirmishes continued for around two hours before the protestors dispersed.
A gunman carried out the killings at a Kurdish cultural centre and nearby cafe on Friday in a busy part of Paris’ 10th district, stunning a community preparing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the unresolved murder of three activists.
Police arrested a 69-year-old man who the authorities said had recently been freed from detention while awaiting trial for a sabre attack on a migrant camp in Paris a year ago.
Following questioning of the suspect, investigators had added a suspected racist motive to initial accusations of murder and violence with weapons, the prosecutor’s office said on Saturday.
After an angry crowd clashed with police on Friday afternoon, the Kurdish democratic council in France (CDK-F) organized a gathering on Saturday at Republic Square.
Hundreds of Kurdish protesters, joined by politicians, including the mayor of the central 10th district, waved flags and listened to tributes to the victims.
“We know that we are under threat, Kurds in general, Kurdish activists and militants. France owes us protection,” Berivan Firat, a spokesperson for the CDK-F told BFM TV.
Friday’s murders came ahead of the anniversary of the killings of three Kurdish women in Paris in January 2013.
An investigation was dropped after the main suspect died shortly before coming to trial, before being reopened in 2019.
“The Kurdish community is afraid. It was already traumatized by the triple murder (in 2013). It needs answers, support and consideration,” David Andic, a lawyer representing the CDK-F told reporters on Friday.
Kurdish representatives, who met on Saturday with Nunez as well as French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti, reiterated their call for Friday’s shooting to be considered a terror attack.
The questioning of the suspect was continuing, the prosecutor’s office added.