Northern Paris witnessed massive riots early morning on Monday amid the coronavirus lock-down, which was extended till May 11 by President Emmanuel Macron. The riots erupted after an Arab-Muslim man was hit by an unmarked police vehicle, amid reports that the alleged police heavy-handedness on ethnic minorities was a trigger for the sudden violence.

Northern Paris engulfed in riots

Paris protests
Twitter Screen Grab/Taha Bouhafs

Villeneuve-la-Garenne, a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, was rocked by riots, where police personnel were attacked with arson. In turn, the police fired tear gas shells. The riots broke out after a 30-year old Arab man was critically injured, following collision with an unmarked police vehicle, the Daily Mail reported.

Videos shared on social media show massive fires and smoke as armed police can be seen moving through the area.

Police fired tear gas shells at the rioters.

At one point, a fire broke out at Villeneuve-la-Garenne.

The violence broke out amid accusations of police heavy-handedness against ethnic minority. "The very badly injured man comes from an Arab Muslim background," a source told the Daily Mail about the motorcyclist hit by a police vehicle.

"He is critical in hospital, and people in the area have reacted very badly to what has happened", the source added. An inquiry has been opened into the incident.

Police releases statement

"Police and their reinforcements have been the target of rioters, who have thrown stones and fireworks," according to a local police spokesman. "The violence started in Villeneuve-la-Garenne and has spread to other towns and estates nearby," he added.

Discrimination allegations against French police

An investigation has been opened against police officers in southern France's Beziers, after a 33-year old father-of-three died, following his arrest for breaching coronavirus restrictions.

Three officers were caught on video dragging the 33-year old Mohamed Gabsi, while a witness saw two officers sitting on top of him in their patrol car.

The officers are suspected of "intentional violence by a public official leading to manslaughter" and 'non assistance of a person in danger'. The combined offences can attract a prison term of more than 15 years.

Also, while covering the riots in Paris, journalist Taha Bouhafs, who has an Algerian background, was caught on video being manhandled by the police.