Rival gangs clash in Dijon as police reinforcements are sent to French city
16 June 2020, 19:53 | Updated: 16 June 2020, 19:56
France has sent police reinforcements into Dijon following four nights of violent clashes over an alleged attack on a Chechen teenager.
The French government deployed a senior official and more police officers to the Burgundy capital to quell the violence that has left at least 10 people injured and a number of cars burned.
Though the reasons for the disorder are currently unclear and under investigation, local officials believe it is linked to the drug trade and tensions between the country's Chechen community and other groups.
Broadcaster France Bleu said the unrest in Dijon's Gresilles neighbourhood began last week after a Chechen teenager was attacked by local drug dealers.
Fighting broke out on Friday after members of the Chechen community called for revenge on social networks.
In the Mediterranean city of Nice, similar disturbances have erupted in recent days which has led to four people being injured.
The mayor put it down to growing tensions over drug territory between local Chechen residents and their rivals.
Further unrest over the weekend led to the interior minister ordering police reinforcements into the region and announcing on Monday that the government would take over management of the situation.
In footage posted on social media, groups of men could appear to be seen shooting machine guns and handguns in the air while roaming around the city.
Images from BFM television showed two cars and several rubbish bins on fire and black smoke rising over a leafy neighbourhood of low-rise apartment buildings.
Young people wearing hoods and masks carried metal bars or bats as they roamed the area, and a makeshift petrol bomb in a plastic bottle lay on the pavement.
A police helicopter circled overhead, and a dozen police vans lined a nearby street as firefighters sought to douse the scattered blazes.
Local residents told BFM they felt abandoned by police as the violence raged over the weekend.
The local prefect, the senior government official for the area, insisted in a statement that "police guaranteed the respect of public order in a complex situation" as they tried to cool tempers and contain the violence.
After the government sent reinforcements, junior minister Laurent Nunez visited the area on Tuesday, and praised local police for their efforts.
Graffiti on a nearby shopfront read "Long Live Putin", in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose military fought Chechen militants in two wars in the 1990s and early 2000s.
France offered asylum to many Chechens at the time, and there are now communities scattered around the country.