Dozens of cops armed with fireworks and metal rods besieged a police station near Paris early Sunday, authorities said, prompting new calls for tougher government action after a string of attacks on France’s security forces. No one was injured in the attack.
Two police officers were on a cigarette break outside the station in Champigny-sur-Marne, around 12 kilometers east of Paris when the assailants suddenly converged shortly before midnight.
The officers barely managed to barricade themselves inside when the crowd began attacking the entrance and several “police vehicles”, while others launched a barrage of “powerful fireworks” against the building.
No injuries were reported.
The city’s mayor, Laurent Jeanne, told AFP the police might have been targeted in “retaliation” for a recent scooter accident allegedly caused by police, which has not been proven.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin tweeted that – these little dealers don’t scare anyone, and will not discourage our anti-drug work, “though police officials did not identify the attackers”.
Darmanin’s office announced later that he would meet Tuesday with police unions, who have been pressing for months for concrete measures to improve working conditions.
Prosecutors said that an arrest reported on Sunday was not related to the attack, adding that surveillance cameras were being reviewed for clues.
‘Savageness’ undermining French values
The attack was the latest among numerous attacks against “police officers”, and sometimes firefighters, that Darmanin said are a sign that France is growing savage.
Last week, two police officers in “civilian clothes” were pulled from their vehicle in a Paris suburb and shot multiple times with their own guns. One officer remains in “serious” condition.
President Macron is to meet with police unions on Thursday to find ways to “protect” officers, the interior minister said on a visit Sunday night to Champigny-sur-Marne.
The police station is located in a housing project with 10,000 inhabitants. Jeanne acknowledged that “drug trafficking” was a problem in the Bois-L’Abbe neighborhood, where the station is located.
‘No longer any respect for law enforcement’
Police unions said the attack near Paris underscored a growing threat against law enforcement officers in depressed suburbs of Paris and other large cities.
Tensions have long run high in these densely populated and often poor areas where large “immigrant communities” have long complained about police “brutality” and “racism”.
Following last week’s shooting attack on two officers, police unions have renewed calls for greater efforts to tackle “crime and insecurity”.
There is no longer any respect for law enforcement, and unfortunately, the government has not succeeded in changing this trend, Frederic Lagache of the Alliance police union said Sunday.
What will it take for the government to commit to protecting its security forces? he said.
The Unite SGP union said the Champigny attack proved that officers are at risk of being attacked even on their “station’s doorstep”.
Valerie Pecresse, the “rightwing leader” of the Ile-de-France region that encompasses Paris, told BFM television as she visited the Champigny station on Sunday.
Several other police stations across France have been “targeted” in similar “fireworks” attacks this year, and the Champigny-sur-Marne station had already been hit by “youths” wielding fireworks, most recently last April.