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Police arrest 150 in unrest after police shooting

NANTERRE, FRANCE (AP) – Protesters angry after police fatally shot a 17-year-old boy set cars and public buildings ablaze in Paris suburbs and unrest spread to some other French cities and towns, despite increased security efforts and the president’s calls for calm.

The killing of 17-year-old Nahel during a traffic check on Tuesday, captured on video, shocked the country and stirred up long-simmering tensions between young people and police in housing projects and other disadvantaged neighbourhoods around France.

Nahel’s surname has not been released by authorities or by his family. In earlier statements, lawyers for the family spelled the name Nael.

Clashes first erupted on Tuesday night in and around the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where Nahel was killed, and the government deployed 2,000 police to maintain order on Wednesday. But violence resumed after dusk.

Police and firefighters struggled to contain protesters and extinguish numerous blazes through the night that damaged schools, police stations and town halls or other public buildings, according to a spokesperson for the national police. The national police yesterday reported fires or skirmishes in multiple cities overnight, from Toulouse in the south to Lille in the north, though the nexus of tensions was Nanterre and other Paris suburbs.

Cars burn during clashes in Nanterre, outside Paris, France. PHOTO: AP

Police arrested 150 people around the country, more than half of them in the Paris region, the spokesperson said.

She was not authorised to be publicly named according to police rules.

The number of injured was not immediately released.

French President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency security meeting yesterday about the violence. “These acts are totally unjustifiable,” Macron said at the beginning of the meeting, which aimed at securing hot spots and planning for the coming days “so full peace can return”.

Macron also said it was time for “remembrance and respect” as Nahel’s mother called for a silent march yesterday in his honour on the square where he was killed.

Multiple vehicles were set ablaze in Nanterre and protesters shot fireworks and threw stones at police, who fired repeated volleys of tear gas. Flames shot out of three stories of a building, and a blaze was reported at an electrical plant.

Fire damaged the town hall of the Paris suburb of L’Ile-Saint-Denis, not far from France’s national stadium and the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics.