Kurds, antiracism groups gather after deadly Paris shooting

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Paris: Kurdish activists, left-wing politicians and anti-racism groups are holding a protest Saturday in Paris after three people were killed at a Kurdish cultural center in an attack that authorities said was aimed at foreigners.

The shooting in a bustling neighbourhood of central Paris also wounded three people, and stirred up concerns about hate crimes at a time when far-right voices have gained prominence in France and around Europe in recent years.

The suspected attacker, who was wounded and is in custody, is a 69-year-old man who was charged last year with attacking migrants and was released earlier this month. Investigators were considering a possible racist motive for Friday’s shooting.

The shooting shook the Kurdish community in the French capital and sparked skirmishes between angry Kurds and police.

The Paris police chief met Saturday with members of the Kurdish community to try to allay their fears ahead of Saturday’s rally at the Place de la Republique.

Friday’s attack took place at the cultural center and a nearby restaurant and hair salon. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the suspect was clearly targeting foreigners, and had acted alone and was not officially affiliated with any extreme-right or other radical movements. The suspect had past convictions for illegal arms possession and armed violence.

Kurdish activists said they had recently been warned by police of threats to Kurdish targets.

In 2013, three women Kurdish activists, including Sakine Cansiz, a founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, were found shot dead at a Kurdish center in Paris.

Turkey’s army has been battling against Kurdish militants affiliated with the banned PKK in southeast Turkey as well as in northern Iraq. Turkey’s military also recently launched a series of air and artillery strikes against Syrian Kurdish militant targets in northern Syria.

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