Three dead in Marseille shootout: 'guns are too easy to buy' says mayor

·3-min read

A police investigation is underway after two people were shot dead, and a third burnt alive on Saturday evening in the southern French city of Marseille. It's the fourth death linked to gun violence this week, a phenomenon which the Mayor Benoît Payan says is out of control.

Two victims aged 25 and 26 were killed in the first shootout around midnight in the 14th district of the city, where 9mm Kalachnikov cartridges were later found.

Elsewhere, a 27 year-old man was kidnapped in the 4th district after a second shootout. He was burnt alive in his car, according to a local police spokesman.

"Although the motives for this latest attack are unclear at this stage, this new episode of violence will in no way diminish the determination of our state services to fight the wave of drug and gun crime and do everything in our power to find the suspects," Marseille police chief Frédérique Camilleri said a statement.

According to the prefecture, 94 police officers have already arrived as back up in Marseille since the beginning of the year, while 120 officers from the special CRS brigade already carry out 3 to 6 anti-drug operations everyday.

Saturday's incident comes on the heels of a shootout on Wednesday in which a 14 year-old boy was killed, and two others injured, again in the city's 14th district.

"We must make up for a lack of police presence, particularly when it comes to combatting the arms trade," socialist mayor of Marseille Benoît Payan told FranceInfo on Thursday.

Government responsibility

"In Marseille, you can buy a Kalachnikov as easy as buying a pain au chocolat," he said.

"This has to stop, and the Interior Minister, who is aware of the problem, must make it a key objective."

"If people are being killed by Kalachnikov rifles, it's because they are too easily sold throughout the city."

"It's our job here in Marseille to make an effort to help those who need help. But breaking up criminal networks, stopping gun and drug trafficking is the central government's responsibility. I sincerely hope the state will make this a national priority."

The number of deaths from gang and drug violence in the Bouches-du-Rhône department (which includes Marseille) has gone up in the last few months, with 11 deaths reported since the beginning of the year.

One of the victims was a 17 year-old girl, who was killed by a stray bullet.

"These events show that terror is taking over these districts making people in the estates victims of drug dealers," Interior minister Gérald Darmanin has said in an interview with BFM TV on Thursday.

"I also know plenty of upmarket areas where people consume cannabis and then, say 'why is it such a mess in Marseille?' Sometimes people with high revenues are actually helping this business to flourish," he said.

He has promised to increase the number of controls, including in upmarket areas of the city and has said 300 extra police officiers will be deployed, 100 of them before the end of the year, reiterating a promise he made during a visit to Marseille in February.

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