WATCH: Marine Le Pen Shares Video of Gun Battle in Multicultural Montpellier, Compares to Baghdad

A municipal police officer stands January 22, 2015 in front of a building in Beziers, southern France, where a Russian Chechen suspected of preparing a terrorist attack was living before his January 19 arrest. Five Russian Chechens were placed under custody in Beziers and Saint-Jean-de-Vedas, outside Montpellier. AFP PHOTO / …
PASCAL GUYOT/AFP via Getty Images

French populist National Rally (RN) leader Marine Le Pen compared scenes in the multicultural city of Montpellier to Baghdad, as rival gangs reportedly exchanged gunfire in broad daylight on Sunday.

Footage shared on social media by Le Pen was confirmed to be authentic by local police, who revealed that at least one person was injured in the gun battle. It does not appear that any bystanders were injured, as the city streets remained largely empty due to lockdown restrictions.

The fighting began at around 1 pm on Sunday, when approximately a dozen hooded men started shooting at each other at the base of the Tour d’Assas tower in the Mosson district of the city, the police commissioner told Agence France Presse.

In response to the shooting, Le Pen said: “These war scenes do not take place in Baghdad but Montpellier. The security situation will remain out of control as long as the government does not disarm the suburbs and dry up trafficking.”

She added that the time for harsh words has passed and that the government must “take action”.

The shootings came just one day after a Greek Orthodox priest was gunned down in Lyon, and just a little over a week after the town hall in Montpellier projected an image of the Charlie Hebdo caricature of the Islamic prophet Muhammed.

It is not believed at present that the latest shooting was connected to radical Islamic terror.

Gang violence has been on the rise in France, contributing to a dramatic increase in murders and attempted murders in the country. Over the ten years leading up to September of last year, murders and attempted murders rose by a staggering 79 per cent.

Frédéric Lagache of the police union Alliance Police Nationale said at the time: “Violence is [spreading]. Law enforcement is no longer scary. Today, for nothing, for a look, it turns to fists. Pulling out a gun has become commonplace.”

Montpellier has been a hotspot for gang violence. In April, police arrested three men after two rival gangs brawled in the city with machetes. Investigators said the fight broke out over territorial disputes over the sale of contraband including black-market cigarettes and hashish.

In June, in the city of Dijon, dozens of Chechen gangsters descended on a North African community, armed with knives, iron bars, and firearms, in an apparent revenge attack for an alleged assault on a young Chechen. At least six people were injured in the attack.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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