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POLICE

French police fire on fleeing suspects, killing one

French police opened fire on a vehicle whose driver attempted to flee when they approached, killing a passenger, prosecutors said on Friday.

French police fire on fleeing suspects, killing one
Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP

The incident follows a series of fatal shootings by officers that has revived debate over their use of force.

A patrol of four officers spotted the car, which had been reported stolen, in a parking lot in Venissieux, a suburb of the southeastern city of Lyon, just after midnight.

As they were about to check the occupants’ identity, the driver suddenly tried to flee, hitting an officer who was thrown onto the vehicle’s bonnet

He and another officer then fired several shots, prosecutors said, and when the car stopped moving, the patrol found two occupants with serious injuries.

The passenger died at the scene and the driver was hospitalised, and a police source said doctors declared him brain-dead.

The officers who opened fire were being questioned by the police’s internal investigations agency, a routine practice when officers use their weapons in the course of duty.

Police violence has been in the spotlight after several fatal shootings by officers, which critics see as a systemic use of excessive force and heavy-handed tactics by French security forces.

This month, police officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man, later identified as homeless, at the Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris.

In June, police shot a woman dead in a car in northern Paris after the vehicle failed to stop when summoned by officers and then allegedly drove towards them at speed.

In April, prosecutors charged a 24-year-old officer with involuntary manslaughter after he used his assault rifle to shoot at a car that sought to escape a patrol in Paris, killing the driver and injuring a passenger.

And last March, angry residents clashed with police during several tense nights in the suburbs north of Paris to protest a fatal shooting by an officer against a van that had been reported stolen.

Under French law, the only justification for an officer using a weapon is when his or her life is in danger.

Particularly contested are patrols carrying assault rifles, which authorities began issuing after mass killings by jihadists in Paris on November 13th, 2015, and a subsequent wave of deadly Islamist attacks.

The government has vowed to take action to restore confidence in security forces, and the divisive issues of police violence and crime were brought to the fore in France’s presidential election this year.

Police unions say officers often face hostility and attacks, and are faced with the difficult task of trying to maintain order in impoverished high-rise housing estates that in some cases are centres of drug dealing and other criminality.

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CRIME

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

Hackers who crippled a French hospital and stole a trove of data last month have released personal records of patients online, officials have confirmed.

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

The cyberattackers demanded a multimillion dollar ransom from the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital near Paris a month ago, but the institution refused to pay.

The hospital said the hackers had now dumped medical scans and lab analyses along with the social security numbers of patients.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the unspeakable disclosure of hacked data,” health minister Fran├žois Braun tweeted on Sunday.

Hospitals around the world have been facing increasing attacks from ransomware groups, particularly since the pandemic stretched resources to breaking point.

The problem has been acute in France, where officials estimated early last year that healthcare institutions were facing on average an attack every week.

President Emmanuel Macron last year called the attacks during the pandemic a “crisis within a crisis” and announced an extra one billion euros for cybersecurity.

During last month’s attack, the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital shut down its emergency services and sent many patients to other institutions.

At one point, officials said the only technology still working was the telephone.

Rather than selling the trove of data, the hacker has dumped at least some of it for download on the “dark web” — a hidden part of the internet that requires special software to access.

Analysts said it seemed to be a tactic to put pressure on the hospital, even though public institutions are banned by French law from paying ransoms.

Cybersecurity researcher Damien Bancal, who revealed the leak and has seen the files, told AFP the worry is that other criminals will now launch scams with the data that has already been divulged.

In response to the leak on the weekend, the hospital severely restricted access to its systems and told patients to be extremely vigilant when receiving emails, text messages or phone calls.

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