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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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FRENCH POLITICS

French minister investigated after rape allegations

A junior minister in President Emmanuel Macron's government is under investigation after two allegations of rape were brought against her, French prosecutors have said.

French minister investigated after rape allegations

The allegations go back to when Chrysoula Zacharopoulou – who is now state secretary for development, Francophonie and international partnerships – worked as a gynaecologist, according to French magazine Marianne.

One complaint was lodged on May 25th and the investigation opened two days later, the prosecutors said. The second complaint was filed on June 16th.

Greece-born Zacharopoulou, 46, joined the government of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in May, having been a member of the European Parliament for the previous three years. She reports to Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

She gained prominence in 2015 by campaigning for greater public awareness of endometriosis together with actress Julie Gayet, who this year married former French president Francois Hollande.

Zacharopoulou was strongly involved in the UN’s COVAX coronavirus vaccine rollout effort, and has spoken out in favour of women’s reproductive rights.

These are not the first rape allegations to overshadow Macron’s government and come at a time of political difficulty for the president after he failed to retain a majority in parliamentary elections.

Prosecutors investigated Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin over an allegation for rape filed in 2017. He denied any wrongdoing and prosecutors in
January asked for the case to be dropped.

Rape allegations were also made against Solidarities minister Damien Abad last month but French prosecutors have said they were not currently opening an investigation.

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