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Police send reinforcements to Paris suburbs after deadly gang brawls

The French government sent police reinforcements on Tuesday evening to two Paris suburbs to try break a cycle of gang violence after two 14-year-olds were stabbed to death in separate brawls.

Police send reinforcements to Paris suburbs after deadly gang brawls
Illustration photo: AFP

The two killings took place within less than 24 hours in the Essonne départment south of Paris.

In the first incident on Monday, a 14-year-old girl died of stab wounds to the stomach during a fight between a dozen youths outside a school in the town of Saint-Cheron, 50km south of Paris.

Six minors aged between 13 and 16 have been arrested over her death.

One of the suspects, who was known to the police, has admitted to delivering the fatal blow with a pocket knife, according to the public prosecutor for the area, Caroline Nisand.

The second stabbing took place on Tuesday in the town of Boussy-Saint-Antoine, 45km away in the east, where a 14-year-old boy died, also “very likely after being stabbed in the stomach”, local authorities told AFP.

A 13-year-old boy was also seriously injured after being stabbed in the throat during a clash between around 30 youths from gangs in two towns on either side of Boussy-Saint-Antoine.

The suspected perpetrator of the stabbing turned himself in to police.

The deaths come after an outcry last month over a video of a 15-year-old in southern Paris suffering a vicious gang beating that left him in a coma.

The state’s representative in the Essonne department, Eric Jalon, told France Info radio on Wednesday that brawls between youth gangs in the area “had increased in number, intensity and gravity”.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who visited the Essonne on Tuesday, said the greater Paris area was particularly affected by fights between teenage gangs.

He blamed the “mimicry of social networks” where youngsters post videos of rivals being beaten up in order to humiliate their opponents.

Nationwide, however, he noted that the level of youth gang violence had subsided since 2016, when nine youngsters were killed in fights.

Police sources said the number of gangs in the Paris area was also largely unchanged in the past five years, with 46 gangs described as active in Paris and the suburbs.

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PARIS

Paris abandons controversial Eiffel Tower plans

The Paris mayor's office has abandoned plans for new buildings around the foot of the Eiffel Tower following months of protests from environmentalists and a petition signed by nearly 150,000 people.

Paris abandons controversial Eiffel Tower plans

Under the scheme, around 20 mature trees would have been cut down, while four new buildings housing a café, shops, toilets and baggage drop-off were set to be constructed.

“I am announcing that we are completely cancelling any construction project at the foot of the tower but the re-landscaping is maintained,” deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire told the Journal du Dimanche.

A decision to save the trees had been made in May following protests and objections from local residents.

The landscaping is part of a much larger plan to re-organise the space around the famous tourist attraction, which will see roads and public areas planted with grass and shrubs.

“We are not giving into pressure but we would like that the project is not overshadowed by controversy. Let’s just say that we are removing some of the friction,” Gregoire continued.

READ ALSO 13 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower

An area of 54 hectares around the tower, currently crisscrossed by several roads, will be largely turned over to pedestrians and “low-impact transportation” such as bus and bike lanes.

City authorities are aiming to finish as much as possible for the start of the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

An estimated 150,000 people visit the tower site every day during the summer high season, including the 20,000 to 30,000 who climb the tower itself.

Overall, seven million people visit the tower each year.

Campaigners were delighted that the plans for new buildings had been dropped and the trees saved.

“We’re satisfied for now but we remain vigilant,” said Thomas Brail from the National Surveillance Group for Trees (GNSA), which took part in a coalition of groups opposed to the plans.

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