French police fired tear gas Friday amid clashes with agitated protesters outside a Kurdish community center in central Paris, where a gunman earlier killed three people and wounded four others.
Clashes with dozens of protesters, mostly from the Kurdish diaspora, erupted as French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin visited the scene of the shooting, at the Ahmet-Kaya Kurdish Cultural Center on Enghien Street.
The alleged assailant has been arrested. The three people killed during the shooting in and near the center were Kurds, the center’s lawyer confirmed to CNN.
The suspect, a 69-year-old French man, was not part of any far-right group controlled by police, Darmanin told reporters at the scene.
“He (the suspect) clearly wanted to do it with foreigners,” Darmanin said.
“At the moment, no element can allow us to know if the attack is aimed specifically at the Kurds,” he added.
Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau said earlier Friday that investigators are not ruling out possible “racist motivations” behind the shooting.
“When it comes to racist motivations, of course those elements are part of the investigation that has just been launched,” Beccuau said.
According to Darmanin, police in Paris and across France have been ordered to protect Kurdish sites and Turkish diplomatic institutions following the attack.
He has also asked the French president and prime minister to allow the Kurds who want to hold demonstrations to do so.
Friday’s shooting in the 10th District has not been ruled a terrorist incident, although all avenues are being investigated.
Paris’ anti-terror prosecutor’s office is “evaluating” the events, but the investigation remains being led by the city’s judicial authorities, the anti-terror prosecutor told CNN on Friday.
“We are evaluating the facts to know whether the event should be classified as an act of terrorism,” the prosecutor’s office said.
After the incident, a crowd gathered near the center, where people from the Kurdish diaspora were heard singing the Kurdish phrase “Şehid Namirin”, which means: Those who are lost are never truly lost, but with us, according to the CNN team on the ground.
Some people were also heard chanting “Killer Erdogan”, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s strong stance against Kurdish nationalism and his policies towards Turkey-based far-left Kurdish political and militant groups and Iraq.