Ongoing civil unrest in France was brought to the doorstep of a Paris suburb mayor following the police killing of a teenager last week.
The mayor of a Paris suburb has said his home was attacked early Sunday morning, calling it “an assassination attempt” on his family amid ongoing unrest in the country.
“At 1:30 a.m., while I was at the city hall like the past three nights, individuals rammed their car upon my residence before setting fire to it to burn my house, inside which my wife and my two young children slept,” said mayor Vincent Jeanbrun of L’Haÿ-les-Roses, a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, in a statement.
“While trying to protect the children and escape the attackers, my wife and one of my children were injured.”
Jeanbrun said that he had “no words strong enough to describe his emotion towards the horror of this night” and thanked police and rescue services for their help.
The Créteil prosecutor’s office has classified the incident as an “attempted murder,” prosecutor Stéphane Hardouin told reporters Sunday.
Hardouin said the initial findings of a police investigation suggest that a flaming car “was launched to burn down the pavilion,” entering Jeanbrun’s property at around 1:30am local time.
“Hitting a low wall, the vehicle stopped… before it could reach the veranda of the house. Only the front gate was hit, along with the family’s vehicle,” the prosecutor said in a news conference outside the mayor’s home.
He said the mayor’s wife and two children, aged 5 and 7, fled through the back garden. While running away, the mayor’s wife hurt her shin which “appears to be broken,” according to the prosecutor.
Hardouin also said forensic police have found a fire accelerant in a bottle of Coke. He didn’t specify which substance the accelerant was.
“Every effort will be made to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” the prosecutor concluded.
France has been rocked by a wave of protests following the death of Nahel Merzouk, a 17-year-old of Algerian descent who was shot by a police officer in Nanterre earlier in the week and whose funeral took place on Saturday at a mosque in the Paris suburb amid a heavy security presence.
The youth’s death has reignited a debate on policing in France’s marginalized communities and raised questions over whether race was a factor in his death.
His mother, Mounia, told television station France 5 on Friday that she blamed only the officer who shot her son for his death. Nonetheless, the killing has sparked widespread destructive unrest.
A GoFundMe page in support of the family of the police officer accused of fatally shooting the teenager had reached almost €650,000 ($710,000) on Sunday afternoon.
The page was started by a far-right TV pundit and claims the policeman “only did his job and is now paying a hard price for it.”
The officer has been charged with voluntary homicide and placed in preliminary detention, the prosecutor of Nanterre said earlier in the week.
In comparison, another crowdfunding page in support of Nahel’s mother had raised over €97,000 ($105,000) at the time of writing. The page reads Nahel “leaves behind a mother torn apart by the loss of her only son. She needs our support to face the long trials that lie ahead.”