PARIS – About 40 unidentified people armed with metal bars and using fireworks as mortars tried to storm a French police station in the Paris suburbs on Saturday night, officials said on Sunday.
“Violent attack last night on the police station of Champigny with mortar shots and various projectiles. No police officer was injured,” the Paris police headquarters said on Twitter.
The police posted a video showing a barrage of fireworks going off in the direction of the police station in Champigny-sur-Marne, about 15 km southeast of central Paris. The armed people attempted to force entry into the station, but failed to do so.
Nobody was arrested, but images showed smashed windows at the police station and damaged cars.
The motive for the attack, the third on this police station in two years, was not immediately clear. The police station is located in a housing estate area known for drug trafficking and deemed by authorities as a high-priority district for order to be restored.
“It was an organized attack of about 40 people who wanted to do battle,” Champigny Mayor Laurent Jeanne told BFM. “For a few days it has been tense with people who have a certain willingness to do battle with the police. It’s anti-police sentiment. We weren’t far off from a disaster.”
A spate of public safety incidents across France since the end of the COVID-19 lockdown in mid-May has put the government on heightened alert for increases in crime amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
President Emmanuel Macron, who faces a presidential election in less than two years, has been criticized by opponents over crime and public safety since he took power in 2017 and opinion polls show that the public see his government as weakest on those issues.