A 69-year-old white French gunman who opened fire at a Kurdish cultural centre in Paris killing three people told investigators he was racist, a source close to the case said on Saturday.
The shots at the centre and a nearby hairdressing salon shortly before midday on Friday caused panic in the trendy 10th district of the French capital, a bustling area of shops and restaurants that is home to a large Kurdish population.
Three others were wounded in the attack that the gunman attributed to his being “racist”, the source said. He was found with a case loaded with a box of at least 25 cartridges and “two or three loaded magazines”, the source added. The weapon was a “much-used” US Army Colt 1911 pistol.
French President Emmanuel Macron said “the Kurds in France have been the target of an odious attack in the heart of Paris” and ordered the Paris police chief to meet with leaders of the Kurdish community on Saturday.
The gunman, who has a history of racist vio-lence, initially targeted the Kurdish cultural centre before entering a hairdressing salon where he was arrested. Of the three wounded people, one was being given intensive care in the hospital and two were treated for serious injuries.
According to the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDK-F), the deceased included one woman and two men. Emine Kara was a leader of the Kurdish Women’s Movement in France, the organisation’s spokesman Agit Polat said. Her claim for political asylum in France had been rejected.
The other victims were Abdulrahman Kizil and Mir Perwer, a political refugee and artist, according to the CDK-F. A police source confirmed that Kara and Kizil were among the victims.
1‘He is crazy’ The Kurdish community centre — called Centre Ahmet Kaya — is used by a charity that organises concerts and exhibitions, and helps the Kurdish diaspora in the Paris region.
The Kurdish community is due to hold a dem-onstration in Paris on Saturday afternoon.
Within hours of the attack, Kurdish protesters clashed with police, who used tear gas in an attempt to disperse them as they tried to break through a police cordon deployed to protect Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who had arrived at the scene.
Protesters hold Kurdish workers party (PKK) flags and portraits of victims during a demonstration of supporters and members of the Kurdish commu-nity, a day after a gunman opened fire at a Kurdish cultural centre killing three people, at The Place de la Republique in Paris on Dec 24. — AFP