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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Police suspect gang violence not terror in French mosque attack

A judicial source said police are "not at all treating it as terrorist related" and suspected instead a dispute between youths.

A police officer stands guard on a street near a scene of a shooting in front of a mosque in Avignon
A police officer stands guard on a street near a scene of a shooting in front of a mosque in Avignon

FRANCE // French police have ruled out terrorism as a motive after eight people – including a young girl - suffered minor wounds following a shooting outside a mosque in the southeastern city of Avignon on Sunday.

According to witnesses, a car pulled up outside the Arrahma mosque on the rue Barcelona at 10.30pm. Two masked men got out of the Renault Clio armed with a pistol and a shotgun and opened fire on people leaving the mosque.

The two then fled from the scene; none of those wounded in the attack were seriously injured, and police believe the attack was related to local issues between youths in the city.

"From what we know this evening, the mosque was not targeted. The fact that it happened in the street of the religious establishment was unconnected with it," the local prosecutor’s office said, ruling out terrorism as a potential cause.

Last Thursday a man was arrested in the Paris suburb of Creteil after he tried to drive a car into a crowd of people outside a mosque there; a similar incident in London on June 19 saw a man die after a van was driven into a group of worshippers outside the Finsbury Park Mosque.

France remains under a state of emergency that was first called in November 2015 after a series of attacks by Isis in Paris, including at the Bataclan music hall and the Stade de France stadium, which claimed 130 lives.

Last year on July 14, Bastille Day, 86 people died when a lorry was used to mow down people in the southern city of Nice who were celebrating the French national holiday.

The state of emergency has been extended six times, most recently to November 2017 following the attack in May in Manchester, Great Britain, which saw more than 20 concertgoers killed by a suicide bomber.

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