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CRIME

Facing panic, French town bans ‘evil’ clowns

A French village has banned teenagers from dressing up as clowns for Halloween after people kitted out as the colourful pranksters have sown terror and violence in several parts of the country.

Facing panic, French town bans 'evil' clowns
It's no joke. Clown panic is spreading across France. Photo: Shutterstock

The 6,000-strong village of Vendargues in southern France wants to "avoid any disruption… by evil clowns," Bruno Giraudo from the village hall told AFP on Thursday.

"It's about protecting children by preventing any ill-intentioned clowns from mixing with residents."

The eerie trend of fake, evil clowns terrifying passers-by has hit several parts of France over recent weeks in what many see as a follow-on from hugely popular YouTube prank videos.

Police have jailed or arrested more than a dozen teenagers after they dressed up as the pranksters and wrought havoc on the streets, at times armed with pistols, knives or baseball bats, sometimes beating people up.

The phenomenon in France has even prompted anti-clown vigilantism, forcing police to step in to try and quell growing hysteria.

According to an order published on the village hall website (see below), "individuals or groups of people aged 13 or more" are banned from dressing up as clowns on streets and in public spaces on October 31st and November 1st.

After that, any teenager wanting to dress up as the funny men so dear to children will have to ask for official authorization.

The phenomenon of terror-inducing clowns appeared earlier this month in the north of France.

According to police, people increasingly reported spotting clowns "outside schools, but also on public roads, in bushes, in a square."

Last week, a 19-year-old got a six-month suspended jail term for threatening passers-by while dressed as a clown in the town of Bethune.

And the phenomenon has spread across the country.

Police at the weekend arrested 14 teenagers dressed as clowns and carrying weapons in the Mediterranean port town of Agde.

Not far away in Montpellier — which is very near Vendargues — a fake clown chased a man down a street and beat him with an iron bar, prompting a court to jail him for four months.

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CRIME

French tax agent ‘kidnapped and killed while conducting an audit’

A French tax inspector was kidnapped and killed, reportedly while carrying out a tax audit in a village in northern France on Monday evening.

French tax agent 'kidnapped and killed while conducting an audit'

The 43-year-old tax agent died on Monday night in northern France, with local media Actu Pas-de-Calais reporting that he was killed by the man whom he was auditing, who later died by suicide.

Emergency services were called to the small village of Bullecourt in the Pas-de-Calais département of northern France at around 8pm. Upon arriving they found two men dead and a woman, reported to be another employee of the tax office, tied up.

She was not believed to be seriously injured but was treated for shock. 

The public prosecutor released a statement saying that both tax agents “were carrying out an at-home audit to check the accounts” of the local man reported to be a brocanteur (antique dealer), who then “kidnapped them and tied them up.” 

“The accused then killed himself with a firearm,” according to the prosecutor’s office. 

The mayor of Bullecourt, a small village of 250 inhabitants, told AFP that he remembered the accused antique dealer as a “helpful” and “ordinary person” who had “integrated into the village.”

Gabriel Attal, the Public Accounts Minister, issued a statement on Monday evening expressing his condolences and saying that the tax agent “was simply doing his job” and that “today, he did not return.” The minister lamented that the agent was “killed while completing a tax audit.”

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