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Paris police investigate racist motive after attack on Kurdish centre

origin 1A car is overturned during protests following the murder of three Kurds in Paris. After the fatal attack in a Kurdish community center in Paris, the French justice is now also investigating a racist motive. Remon Haazen/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Following a deadly attack at a Kurdish community center in Paris, the French judiciary is investigating a possible racist motive behind the shooting.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Saturday that the maximum penalty the prime suspect could face if convicted is life in prison.

The alleged perpetrator, a 69-year-old Frenchman, was given an extended prison term on Saturday.

An investigation into premeditated murder and aggravated violence began on Friday.

During the attack, a man fired shots at a Kurdish community centre, a nearby restaurant and a hair salon. Three people died and three were injured.

According to the Kurdish umbrella organization the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDK-F), all of the victims were Kurdish activists.

“Obviously he wanted to attack foreigners,” said French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

It is unclear, Darmanin said, however, whether the attack was explicitly directed against Kurds.

French media reported that the man himself told police he shot because he was a racist.

The suspect had only been released from police custody a few days ago.

Last year he attacked a migrant tent city and injured several people. Also in 2016, according to media reports, she attacked a man with a knife.

The CDK-F described the attack as a “terrorist attack,” which, they wrote, comes amid numerous threats to the Kurds from Turkey.

Turkey has long fought Kurdish independence efforts backed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and other Kurdish organizations.

A number of people gathered in Paris’ Place de la République on Saturday at noon (11:00 GMT) to condemn the attack.

The CDK-F said there were thousands of attendees even before the rally officially started. The police did not provide any information on the number of participants.

According to media reports, the atmosphere was partly tense, with isolated clashes. Protesters threw objects at police and police used tear gas, BFMTV reported.

There were also minor clashes with security forces during a rally near the site of the attack on Friday evening.

France said after the attack it wants to protect Kurdish meeting places. Throughout the country, guards were to be posted at Kurdish community meeting places.

Darmanin also wanted to investigate whether there were any other threats against Kurds in France.

The interior minister also announced that Turkish diplomatic missions in the country will be protected to prevent counterattacks.

origin 1Police use tear gas against protesters as they clashed with each other, following the deaths of three people when shots were fired at a Kurdish community center in central Paris in what may be a racist attack. Remon Haazen/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa