Additional police forces have been sent to France's eastern city of Dijon after it saw a third consecutive day of violence. Masked and armed men belonging to the Chechen diaspora have taken to streets to avenge the assault of a 16-year old Chechen teenager. Chechnya, a Muslim-majority region of the Russian Federation, has waged a bloodied independence campaign against Russia, which has led to a mass exodus of Chechen people to other parts of the world.
The unrest in Dijon was sparked by the assault of a Chechen teenager by a local drug-dealer on June 10. The city witnessed violence over the weekend, which prompted the French government to send police reinforcements.
On Monday, around 150 people armed with guns, axes and baseball bats took to the streets. In videos shared on social media, they can be seen firing shots in the air. The crowd also set rubbish bins and a car on fire, France24 reported.
In one such incident on Saturday, some 50 Chechens entered the restive district of Gresilles, police said, and a man who owns a pizzeria was badly wounded in gunfire. On Saturday, around 200 men entered Gresilles with the intent to cause violence. Dijon prosecutor Eric Mathais said that as many as six people have been wounded in three incidents, but no arrests have been made. He further added that a probe has been opened into attempted murder by a criminal gang.
A man who identified himself as a Chechen told local news media that their actions were aimed at avenging the assault of the Chechen teenager. He further informed that Chechens from Germany and Belgium, along with those from France, took part in the unrest. However, he added that their intent was never to ransack the city or take it out on the people.
Francois Rebsamen, the city's mayor, called the violence "unprecedented and unacceptable". Bernard Schmeltz, the top state official in the region, said in a statement that the violence appeared to be part of a settling of scores between Chechens in France and the other residents.
Thirty-seven anti-riot police officers were brought into the region on Sunday. On Monday, 110 additional gendarmes were deployed to crush the violence.