French City Marseille Described as Like ‘War’ as Police Targeted by Kalashnikov Fire

terrorist holding kalashnikov rifle isolated on a black background
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Police officers in Marseille, France, were targetted by alleged Kalashnikov rifle fire over the weekend as a union official described part of the city as being like a warzone.

Police officers were conducting an anti-drug operation in the area of La Bricarde in the 15th arrondissement (district) of the southern French port city on Sunday at around 4 pm when they were met with a hail of gunfire.

“They had to throw themselves on the ground to avoid the bullets, several of which came to be stuck in a wall against which the agents had been leaning just before the shots,” a source told the French newspaper, Le Figaro. The source continued that it was clear the intention of the assailants was “to shoot cops”.

According to the newspaper, several bullet casings were later found nearby indicating pistol and rifle calibres, the latter possibly belonging to a Kalashnikov. Officers arrested a male suspect who was believed to have just got rid of a pair of gloves. Police said that they will be testing the man’s hands for gunpowder residue to see if he had fired a firearm.

At the same time in the Cité Campagne Lévêque, also in the 15th district of Marseille, a gang of young people attacked a crew from the Territorial Security Brigade (BST). The young assailants reportedly rained down on the ten officers from the roofs of buildings cobblestones, fireworks, and pétanque balls, a kind of small but heavy metal ball used to play a French form of lawn bowling. Several police vehicles were damaged, and officers managed to arrest seven suspects aged 16 and 17.

Rudy Manna, departmental secretary of the Alliance police union in the Bouches-du-Rhône, described the situation in northern Marseille as being like a warzone and saying some areas were basically lawless.

“It is war in the northern districts of Marseille. It is almost a lawless area,” Mr Manna had said.

Over the weekend, police also reported finding a large arsenal of weapons in an apartment in the 15th arrondissement, claiming to have found rocket launchers, rockets, explosives, 500 rounds of ammunition, heavy bulletproof vests, helmets, and military-style uniforms.

The discovery is said to have taken place when the owner of the apartment, which was being occupied by illegal squatters at the time, hired a locksmith to change the locks.

“Everything was ready for use,” a police source told Le Figaro.

Criminals armed with Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles have been a major problem in Marseille for years and gang members have confronted police in the past while armed. While in June, a high-speed TGV train was shot with what is believed to have been a Kalashnikov-style rifle.

Security issues, urban violence, and attacks on police have led some to speculate that France could plunge into civil war in the near future.

In December, French General Pierre de Villiers, the former chief of staff of the French armed forces, stated: “France has been at peace for 75 years. We soldiers do not want war. We know what it is. My fear is civil war.”

Last month, French conservative presidential hopeful Xavier Bertrand echoes the general’s comments, saying: “There is today a real risk of civil war.”

Adding: “The president of the Republic must do everything to avoid it, and this requires above all the end of crimes not being punished. Any sanction must result in a sentence at the end.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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