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Paris Attack on Kurdish Cultural Center Sparks Heated Protests, Clashes with Police
On December 23, a shooting took place in the 10th District of Paris. The attack targeted 'Ahmet Kaya' Kurdish Cultural Center, a restaurant and a barber shop owned by Kurdish immigrants. Three people were killed and three more were injured. The attacker was identified as 69-year-old William M.
The Paris Prosecutor's Office reported that the gunman was taken to the Paris Police Department Psychiatric Hospital, citing a health condition. William told authorities that he deliberately targeted non-Europeans, first seeking victims in the northern Saint-Denis neighborhood before attacking the Kurdish cultural center and adjacent small businesses, describing his hatred for foreigners as “pathological”.
The shooter had a previous criminal record including weapons violations, and had just been released from pre-trial custody two weeks prior to the December 23 attack, apparently under investigation for violence of a “racist nature”. It was also reported that the shooter had attacked tents in a Paris refugee camp with a sword in December 2021.
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According to French prosecutors, William M. deliberately attacked the Kurdish community due to his dissatisfaction with how Kurdish militias had fought the war against the Islamic State in the Middle East, apparently resentful that they had taken prisoners rather than executing captives. It is not the first time that Paris’s Kurdish community has been targeted by fatal violence. In 2013, three Kurdish female activists were shot dead in a crime that remains unsolved. One of the victims was a co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—a party-cum-militia that has been waging guerrilla warfare against Turkey since the 1980s and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
The shootings sparked large angry protests among Paris’s Kurdish community, which boiled over into fierce clashes with riot police, who fired tear gas and crowd control munitions in attempt to disburse people. Kurdish protesters demanded greater protection from the French police, built fiery barricades in the streets, and overturned parked vehicles. Demonstrations began in the Place de la République and spread to other pockets of the city. Some protesters denounced Turkey and seemed to lay blame for the attack on France’s NATO ally; while on December 29, Turkey summoned the French ambassador to protest the presence of some French politicians among Kurdish demonstrators, accusing the former of “involvement in anti-Turkey propaganda.”
In CCTV stills from the attack, we see that the shooter used a handgun. According to various sources, eyewitnesses stated that 7 or 8 shots were fired in total.
Since French authorities published the photograph of the weapon used in the attack, there are some notable points to be made.
The firearm seized from William M. appears to be an M1911(A1) pattern pistol. A handful of .45 ACP (11.43 23mm) rounds and four magazines accompany the weapon. It appears that the magazines have a capacity of 7 rounds each.
Considering eyewitness claims that 7 or 8 shots were fired, it can be assumed that the attacker fired a full magazine (he may have fired 8 shots if he had a fully loaded magazine in addition to a round already chambered).
According to the suspect himself, the weapon was attained by him four years prior in an apparently illicit transfer involving a member of an established French shooting club. He says he hid the firearm at his parents’ home, from where he retrieved it in the moments before his attack.
William M. is a known weapons enthusiast. According to authorities he does not have any known ties to established far-right and/or racist organizations but was seemingly motivated by personal grievances.