The gunman, a retired train driver, “was clearly targeting foreigners”, Darmanin told reporters, adding however that it was “not certain” that the man was aiming to kill “Kurds in particular”.
Darmanin said: “We yet don’t know his exact motives.”
There was also no information so far on links of the suspect with ultra-right activists, he said.
The man is a member of a shooting sports club “and has several registered weapons”, the minister said.
The Kurdish community centre, called Centre Ahmet Kaya, is used by a charity that organises concerts and exhibitions, and helps the Kurdish diaspora in the Paris region.
Protestors clashes with French riot police officers following a statement by French Interior Minister at the site where several shots were fired along rue d’Enghien in the 10th arrondissement, in Paris on December 23, 2022. – Three people were killed and three injured in a shooting along rue d’Enghien in central Paris on December 23, 2022, police and prosecutors said, adding that the shooter, in his 60s, had been arrested. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)
The gunman was described by police sources as “Caucasian”, of French nationality, and was linked to two previous attempted murders in 2016 and 2021.
The retired train driver was initially convicted over the first case in the multicultural Seine-Saint-Denis suburb of Paris, but freed on appeal, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau told reporters without giving further details.
In the second case, he was charged with racist violence after allegedly attacking migrants sleeping in tents in the Bercy area of the city in December 2021, Beccuau added.
At least two migrants were stabbed, a police source told AFP at the time.
“As for a racist motive for this case, this will obviously form part of our investigations which are starting now,” she said.
The shooter was released on bail recently and suffered facial injuries on Friday, requiring hospital treatment.
France’s specialised anti-terror prosecutor’s office has not taken over the case so far, indicating that the triple murder is being treated as regular violent crime at this stage.
The far right seems to have struck again. With deadly consequences,” senior left-wing MP Clementine Autain wrote on Twitter. “When will those at the head of the state take this terrorist threat seriously?”
But the Kurdish Democratic Council of France (CDK-F), which uses the cultural centre as its headquarters, said in a statement that it considered the shooting to be a “terror attack”.
Asked whether any of the victims in Friday’s shooting had links to the Kurdish PKK movement, designated a terrorist organisation by the EU and others, Darmanin said they appeared not to have been known to France’s security services.
Darmanin said he had ordered tighter security at Kurdish meeting places in France, as well at Turkish diplomatic offices.
Officials were to meet to evaluate the likelihood of any further threats to the Kurdish community in Paris or elsewhere in France, he said.
Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne called the shooting an “odious attack” and sent her “full support to the victims and their loved ones.”
Following the shooting there were clashes between protesters and police near the scene. Kurdish groups have also called for a demonstration at Place de la Republique on Saturday.
Protestors clashes with French riot police officers following a statement by French Interior Minister at the site where several shots were fired along rue d’Enghien in the 10th arrondissement, in Paris on December 23, 2022. – Three people were killed and three injured in a shooting in central Paris on December 23, 2022, police and prosecutors said, adding that the shooter, in his 60s, had been arrested. The motives of the gunman remain unclear, with two of the four injured left in a serious condition, the French officials said. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)
Kurds in France
Interior Minister Darmanin has previously warned of the threat of far right groups in France.
In one of several cases in recent years, 13 people from far-right political circles were ordered to stand trial last month for allegedly plotting to attack President Emmanuel Macron.Some members of the Kurdish centre could be seen weeping and hugging each
other for comfort after the attack.
“It’s starting again. You aren’t protecting us. We’re being killed!” one of them cried to nearby police.
Often described as the world’s largest people without a state, the Kurds are a Muslim ethnic group spread across Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.
The Kurdish Democratic Council of France underlined that the shooting coincided with the 10th anniversary of the murder of three female Kurdish militants in Paris.
A Turkish man was charged with the assassinations on January 9, 2013, but he died in custody before being tried.
The victims’ families have long pointed the finger at Turkey for masterminding the deaths of the three women, who were shot in the head and neck, and at France for failing to investigate properly.
“The Kurdish Democratic Council of France condemns in the strongest possible terms this vile terrorist attack which occurred following multiples threats from Turkey, an ally of Daesh,” it said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State terror group.
Turkey launches regular military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — a designated terrorist group by the European Union and the United States — as well as Kurdish groups it accuses of being allies.
The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
Read More:Three dead and three injured in shooting at Kurdish cultural centre in Paris