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Mayor of crime-ridden Marseille slams Paris

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Mayor of crime-ridden Marseille slams Paris
A French police officer patrols during operations at an apartment block in Air Bel, Marseille, on March 15th. Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP
15:19 CET+01:00
The mayor of Marseille blasted France’s Socialist government on Monday for concentrating their attention and resources on Paris and failing to do enough to protect the Mediterranean city's inhabitants from a recent wave of violent crime.

The sixth gangland killing in just two weeks on the streets of Marseille has provoked the mayor of the country's second city to lash out at  the government accusing it of only caring about the French capital Paris.

Jean-Claude Gaudin, senator from the centre-right UMP party, and mayor of France’s second-largest city, rounded on the Socialist government of President François Hollande for setting aside €30 billion for a transport and development project in and around the French capital.

“It’s scandalous to announce €30 billion for the Grand Paris scheme, and give nothing to Marseille,” Gaudin said in an interview with Le Figaro.

“We are making huge efforts, but the security of people and property fundamentally depends on the state,” he added.

“I would like it if the government showed an awareness that they must help Marseille, but we will not beg for charity for France’s second city and its 860,000 inhabitants,” he added.

Last week France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced he was sending extra reinforcements to the Mediterranean city in a bid to tackle ongoing gun crime. Around 240 CRS riot police will be sent to the embattled southern city, which is currently in the middle of year-long celebrations to mark its status as the European 2013 Capital of Culture.

Speaking to the weekly journal Le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday, France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls said politicians needed to stick together to deal with the problem.

“This is a war between the rule of law and barbarism…In that kind of context, elected officials don’t have the right to become divided. They must be united and responsible,” said Valls.

On Saturday, the charred corpse of a man who had been shot was found in a burned out car in the north of Marseilles, bringing the number of gangland murders to six in the last fortnight.

On March 13th, two 21-year-old men with criminal records were shot dead in broad daylight, in front of on-looking children in the city’s Bleuets estate.

Those murders followed the execution-style killing on March 9th, of a man who had just come out of the city's Baumettes prison, and the slaying of another ex-prisoner, who was shot in the face last month.

A burnt, bullet-riddled body discovered in woodland, inland from Marseille, has also recently been identified as being that of a known drug dealer from the city's troubled northern quarter.

The latest spate of incidents has followed a relative lull in the wave of violence that last year left at least 24 people dead and triggered calls by some politicians for the army to be sent in.

Susan Fitoussi, an American who has lived in Marseille for the last 19 years, told The Local on Monday that while she "hated hearing about" gangland murders, many Marseille residents were not affected by the killings.

"The concern is always there. I talk to my friends about the possibility the violence might some day spill over into our neighbourhoods, but for now it's still isolated to the northern party of the city," she said.

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