A gunman attacked the Kurdish Culture Centre in Paris, a Kurdish-owned restaurant and hairdressers, murdering 2 people andwounding many.
A 69-year-old man opened fire on a group of people at the Ahmet-Kaya centre on Rue d’Enghien in the 10th arrondissement on Friday morning.
Shots were also fired at a hairdresser’s and a restaurant in the street, the arrondissement’s mayor, Alexandra Cordebard, told BFM TV, adding that the suspect had been wounded.
Paris prosecutors said police arrested the alleged gunman and seized a weapon soon after the shooting. The suspect, a French national, is a retired train conductor, according to reports.
Prosecutors said the suspect had a prior police record, including an arrest for attacking migrants living in tents, and that investigators were considering a possible racist motive for the shooting.
An investigation has been opened for murder, voluntary manslaughter and aggravated violence.
The Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said psychological assistance would be made available to residents affected by the incident and the French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said he would return to Paris to “visit the scene of this dramatic shooting”.
One witness, a shopkeeper in the street, said seven or eight shots had been fired. “It was just complete panic – everyone locked themselves in,” the woman said.
The owner of a restaurant in the street said they had seen “an old white man enter the cultural centre and open fire. Then he then went into the hairdressing salon next door.”
Paris police tweeted that a police operation was under way and asked people to avoid the area, which is close to a number of busy shopping streets and the Grand Rex, often described as Europe’s biggest cinema.
France experienced a string of deadly attacks by Islamic extremists in 2015 and 2016, and remains on alert for terrorism-related violence.