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Marseille police get pump shotguns to fight crime

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11:38 CET+01:00

French President Nicolas Sarkozy told police working in the south of France they would be allowed to use pump shotguns to tackle the city's a crime spike. In November, a policeman was shot while trying to intercept suspected burglars on the run.

French police will receive 150 pump shotguns and 600 new balistic shields before the end of the year, Sarkozy told police unions during a visit to the southern city of Marseille.

Police have been facing a spike in shootings on the French Riviera, with criminals using kalashnikovs. Four people, including a 37-year-old policeman, died in the attacks.

Sarkozy and Interior Minister Claude Guéant met policemen in Marseille to express their support on Thursday. Sarkozy also announced the death of the policeman who was shot during a car chase north of Marseille. Hit in the head and in the stomach, the father of two was in a coma since November.

The Greens and the Communist Party have criticised Sarkozy’s decision to increase police firepower and said it was irresponsible to start an arms race with local gangsters, French weekly Nouvel Observateur reported. The Communist Party instead say they want more policemen patrolling the streets.

Far right leader Marine Le Pen also criticised Sarkozy and said he should be tougher on crime. She says police aren’t allowed to use their weapons and should benefit from the presumption of legitimate defence.

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