A burnt out vehicle stands on a street in front of the fire damaged Tessi group building in the Alma district of Roubaix on June 30, 2023, which was completely destroyed by fire during protests after a 17-year-old boy was shot in the chest by police at point-blank range in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris. . The building, which housed a data processing company for banks and insurance companies, completely burned down, following another night of tension after the death of the teenage driver in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on June 27. Image Credit: AFP

PARIS: France’s government said it would examine “all options”, including declaring a state of emergency, for restoring order on Friday, after nationwide unrest escalated overnight into the most destructive rioting since police shot and killed a teenager at a traffic stop.

Bus and tram service in the Paris region will halt at 9pm each evening until further notice, the IDFM regional transport authority said on Friday, after three nights of rioting over a teenager’s fatal shooting by police.

The early shutdown was “for the safety of our workers and passengers”, IDFM said following attacks on transport and public infrastructure during the violence.

Marseille, France’s second-largest city, meanwhile, decided to ban public demonstrations  after last night’s latest riots in France, said the local authorities for the city. All public transport in Marseille will also stop as from 7pm local time.

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Hundreds of police were injured and hundreds of people arrested, authorities said, as rioters clashed with officers in towns and cities across France, with buildings and vehicles torched and stores looted.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who had increased police deployments fourfold to 40,000 officers on Thursday night in a bid to quell a third night of unrest, said on Twitter that police made 667 arrests.

Nationwide, 249 police were injured in the clashes, authorities said. The interior ministry said 79 police posts were attacked, as well as 119 public buildings including 34 town halls and 28 schools.

President Emmanuel Macron, who has so far ruled out declaring a state of emergency, was en route to Paris from Brussels after leaving a European Union summit early so he could attend a second cabinet crisis meeting in two days.

The government would examine “all options” for restoring order, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said, calling the violence “intolerable and inexcusable” in a tweet.

“The priority is to ensure national unity and the way to do it is to restore order,” she later told reporters during a visit to a Paris suburb.

Violence flared again in Marseille, Lyon, Pau, Toulouse and Lille as well as parts of Paris, including the working class suburb of Nanterre, where 17-year-old Nahel M. -who was of Algerian and Moroccan descent - was shot dead on Tuesday.

His death has fuelled longstanding complaints of police violence and systemic racism inside law enforcement agencies from rights groups and within the low-income, racially mixed suburbs around France’s major cities.


Overnight videos on social media showed urban landscapes ablaze across the country. A tram was set alight in the eastern city of Lyon and 12 buses gutted in a depot in Aubervilliers, northern Paris.

The facade of the adjacent Aubervilliers aquatic centre, where training will take place for the Olympics in 2024, was slightly damaged in the fire, SOLIDEO - the company in charge of the Games’ infrastructures - told Reuters.

In Nanterre on the capital’s outskirts, protesters torched cars, barricaded streets and hurled projectiles at police following an earlier peaceful vigil held to pay tribute to the dead boy.

In the Chatelet Les Halles shopping mall in central Paris, a Nike shoe store was broken into, and several people were arrested after store windows were smashed along the adjacent Rue de Rivoli shopping street, Paris police said.

Transport Minister Clement Beaune told RMC radio early on Friday he did not rule out shutting down the capital’s public transport network.

A source told Reuters that several Casino supermarkets were looted across the country.

In Geneva, the United Nations rights office emphasized the importance of peaceful assembly and urged French authorities to ensure that use of force by police is legal, proportional and non-discriminatory.

“This is a moment for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and racial discrimination in law enforcement,” spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said.

Rights groups allege systemic racism inside law enforcement agencies in France, a charge Macron has denied. In 2020 his government promised “zero tolerance” of racism within law enforcement agencies.

The policeman who prosecutors said had acknowledged firing a lethal shot at the teenager was on Thursday placed under formal investigation for voluntary homicide - equivalent to being charged under Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions. He is being held in preventive detention.

His lawyer, Laurent-Franck Lienard, said his client had aimed down towards the driver’s leg but was bumped, causing him to shoot towards his chest. “Obviously (the officer) didn’t want to kill the driver,” Lienard said on BFM TV.

Some western governments had on Thursday warned their citizens in France to exercise caution.

Americans “should avoid mass gatherings and areas of significant police activity,” the U.S. embassy said in a tweet, while UK authorities urged Britons to monitor the media, avoid protests and check advice when travelling.

Overnight in southern France, police fired tear gas grenades and Marseille’s tourist hot-spot of Le Vieux Port was evacuated as youths clashed with police.

In Roubaix, northern France, a fire destroyed the office of the TESSI company and several cars were set on fire.

The unrest has revived memories of three weeks of nationwide riots in 2005 that forced then-president Jacques Chirac to declare a state of emergency.

That wave of violence erupted in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois following the death of two young men who ended up being electrocuted in a power substation as they hid from police.