Tens of thousands of vehicles were set on fire, thousands of buildings damaged and thousands of people arrested, said Gérald Darmanin.
More than 3,500 people have been arrested in connection with the massive riots that have gripped France following the death of a 17-year-old boy of North African descent at the hands of police last week, said Wednesday Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin in the French Senate. Nearly 1,400 people were arrested in Paris and its suburbs, he added.
Most of the detained rioters were young people between the ages of 17 and 18, according to the minister. A third of them were minors who “extremely young for the most part,” he said, adding that the youngest inmate was only 11 years old.
In total, between 8,000 and 12,000 people have taken part in the riots in recent days, but “only 10% are of non-French nationality”, Darmanin revealed, adding that foreigners were not the majority behind the unrest. Nearly two-thirds of those arrested in last week’s event had no criminal record and were previously unknown to police, the minister added, during a hearing that lasted nearly an hour and half.
The unrest left more than 12,000 vehicles burned and more than 2,500 buildings destroyed or damaged, including 273 police buildings, 105 town halls and 168 schools. The riots also involved 17 attacks on “elected officials” and injured some 800 police and gendarmes, he said.
The minister disputed claims that police were increasingly shooting at vehicles after their drivers refused to comply with police orders. The number of such incidents has decreased from 255 in 2017 to 168 in 2022, he replied.
“AT [the number of] shootings multiplied by five as I read? It is wrong!” he exclaimed, adding that it is the opposite and that the police use their weapons “less and less” despite the increase in the rate of non-compliance among drivers.
The unrest was sparked by the murder by a police officer of teenager Nahel Merzouk in the Paris suburbs. The 17-year-old reportedly tried to flee after being arrested by police. The policeman who shot and killed the 17-year-old boy last week remains in police custody since Tuesday. He was charged with homicide.
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