France Mosques Targetted After Charlie Hebdo Blasphemy Killings: Paris Protests

09 January 2015

By Ahmed Abdullah

Muslim places of worship in two French towns were fired upon overnight, hours after the deadly assault on a satirical newspaper that killed 12 people, prosecutors said on Thursday. No casualties were reported.

Three blank grenades were thrown at a mosque shortly after midnight in the city of Le Mans, west of Paris. A bullet hole was also found in a window of the mosque.
In the Port-la-Nouvelle district near Narbonne in southern France, several shots were fired in the direction of a Muslim prayer hall shortly after evening prayers. The hall was empty, the local prosecutor said.

An explosion at a kebab shop near a mosque in the eastern French town of Villefranche-sur-Saone on Thursday morning also left no casualties. Local prosecutors have described it as a "criminal act."

On the southern edge of Paris, an assailant opened fire on a police officer early Thursday, killing her and injuring a nearby street sweeper before fleeing, officials and a witness said. France's interior minister cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

The attacker in the pre-dawn shooting Thursday remained at large, said French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. It was not immediately clear whether the attack was linked to the assault on the newspaper Charlie Hebdo, in which two police officers were among the dead.

In the Thursday shooting, Cazeneuve said, the officer had stopped to investigate a traffic accident when the firing started. Paris police said the second victim was a street sweeper. The officer later died of her injuries, said Emmanuel Cravelo of the Alliance police union.

"There was an officer in front of a white car and a man running away who shot," said Ahmed Sassi, who saw the shooting from his home nearby.

Sassi said the shooter wore dark clothes but no mask. "It didn't look like a big gun because he held it with one hand," Sassi said.

Cazeneuve left an emergency government meeting to travel to the scene of the latest shooting. France is on its highest level of alert after the deadly attacks at Charlie Hebdo's central Paris offices.

Activists protest Gaza siege in Paris

Meanwhile, Several pro-Palestinian activists rallied last night in Chatelet Square in the French capital Paris to call for lifting the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.

The rally was part of solidarity activities organized by the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza.

French activists and citizens from Arab and Muslim communities in France participated in the protest.

The protestors carried banners calling for opening the Rafah border crossing, reconstructing Gaza, and building Gaza harbor.

The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza on December 27 launched pro-Gaza solidarity events that are slated to end on January 18.

In a related context, the international popular committee for the support of Gaza called on pro-Palestinian groups to continue organizing activities in different European and foreign countries against the blockade on Gaza.

The committee urged all supporters of the Palestinian people to demand their governments and parliaments to pressure Israel to end its blockade on Gaza and its occupation of the Palestinian territories. 



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