Chinese tour bus attacked as French riots enters fifth day

Mounia (C), the mother of Nahel, a teenage driver shot dead by a policeman, raises her fist with attendees as they hold a minute of silence during a commemoration march for her son, in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre. Picture: AFP

Mounia (C), the mother of Nahel, a teenage driver shot dead by a policeman, raises her fist with attendees as they hold a minute of silence during a commemoration march for her son, in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre. Picture: AFP

Published Jul 3, 2023


By Annabelle Timsit and Lyric Li

Protests in France over the police killing of a teenager flared again overnight but were calmer than previous days, authorities said, with pockets of violence across the country, including an apparent attack on a mayor's home.

Authorities said more than 700 people were arrested late Saturday and early Sunday, and accused rioters of setting fire to the home of Vincent Jeanbrun, mayor of L'Hay-les-Roses, a southern suburb of Paris.

The grandmother of the teen whose death sparked the riots last week urged calm on Sunday, a day after her grandson was laid to rest.

"Stop and do not riot," she said to France's BFM television, which only reported her first name, Nadia.

French President Emmanuel Macron planned to hold a crisis meeting on Sunday night in Paris, local media reported, quoting a statement from the presidency.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also said he was watching "with concern" after Macron postponed a state visit to Germany that was scheduled for Sunday.

A statement from the Police Prefecture, a unit of the Interior Ministry, said a new decree would allow drones to capture, record and transmit images in Paris and two other regions that border the capital.

The violence erupted on Tuesday over the death of Nahel M., a 17-year-old of North African descent who was shot that day by a police officer during a traffic stop in Nanterre, west of Paris.

The incident inflamed anti-police sentiment in France, particularly in the suburbs of major cities, or "banlieues" - where minority communities often grapple with discrimination and high unemployment.

Prosecutors said Nahel was driving dangerously and refused to stop the car for an inspection when asked by two traffic police officers on motorcycles.

The officers then pulled up alongside Nahel's car, and pointed their guns at him, with one officer firing a bullet that penetrated the teen's arm and chest.

The officer who fired the shot was detained and is being investigated on an intentional homicide charge.

Nadia, Nahel's grandmother, said in her remarks on Sunday that she "resents" the police who killed her grandson, but doesn't hate all police officers, adding that she "believes in justice."

But she issued a stern warning to rioters: "Do not smash windows, attack schools or buses. Stop!" she said, according to Agence France-Presse.

On Sunday, authorities in Beijing said that a bus carrying Chinese tourists was attacked during protests last week.

The windows of the bus were smashed, and several people were lightly injured, the Foreign Ministry said.

China's Consulate in Marseille, in the south of France, "immediately lodged complaints with the French side, demanding that they ensure the personal and property safety of the Chinese citizens," the ministry said.

He Shuai, head of consular services in Marseille, told China's Southern Metropolis Daily that the attack against the 41-person group occurred on Thursday evening.

A woman who was on the bus told the state-run Hangzhou Transportation 918 radio station that police didn't come to the group's rescue during the attack.

The woman, identified only by her surname, Ma, said the group was on its way to a hotel in Marseille around 10:30pm when over a dozen masked people dressed in black started hurling bricks at the bus.

Some of the attackers attempted to board the bus before being rebuffed by passengers, Ma said, according to the radio station.

Police in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, where Marseille is located, confirmed in a phone call on Sunday that a bus containing a Chinese tour group was attacked during the riots in the city but said they could not confirm whether anyone was injured because of the volume of incidents that took place in recent days.

Police said the bus was attacked because it was near a construction site where rioters had gone to find more projectiles.

The bus was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" and was not targeted specifically because of the passengers' race, police said.

The Washington Post's Rick Noack contributed to this report.