Gunmen Fire on Marseille Police

Reuters, February 9, 2015

Gunmen fired on a police car in Marseille on Monday in what local officials said was a drug-related incident, just hours before a visit by Prime Minister Manuel Valls to hail a drop in crime in France’s second city.

Residents of the La Castellane neighborhood on the north side of the city, home to some 7,000, were told to stay indoors. A creche was evacuated as troops from the GIPN special forces unit were sent into the sealed-off estate, a police source said.

“There were shots fired in the direction of a police vehicle coming from hooded individuals armed with Kalashnikovs,” local police chief Pierre-Marie Bourniquel told Reuters

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Police seized seven Kalashnikovs and around 20 kilograms of drugs, according to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who was accompanying Valls. {snip}

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The prime minister said in a speech at the Marseille police headquarters that “the simple fact of wearing a uniform” now exposed officers to violence.

France has been on high alert following Islamist attacks in Paris last month that killed 17 people. Last week, two soldiers protecting a Jewish organization and radio station were wounded in a knife attack in the city of Nice.

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Valls has deplored the failure of decades of French urban and social policy, which has led to what he called a social and ethnic “apartheid” across France.

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