France: North Africans Indicted In Arson That Killed Eight Including Two Infants

A gendarme walks by the site of a fire that broke out the day before following an explosio
RAYMOND ROIG/AFP via Getty Images

French prosecutors have indicted three North African migrant men in connection to an alleged insurance fraud arson that led to the deaths of eight people, including two infants.

The three men, a 27-year-old Algerian and two Tunisians aged 40 and 43 were indicted on the weekend over an alleged arson that took place in February of this year in the commune of Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque, near the city of Perpignan.

The fire, caused by an explosion that started in a grocery shop on the first level of a building, took place in mid-February and affected nearby buildings, leading to the deaths of eight residents, the newspaper Le Figaro reports.

Among the victims were two small children: a two-year-old and a small baby, who died in the incident along with their parents and their grandfather.

The 27-year-old Algerian was the first arrested and was also injured as a result of the fire. As a result, he has remained in hospital in the city of Montpellier since the incident. The Algerian is also said to be an illegal immigrant.

The 43-year-old Tunisian is said to be the owner of the grocery shop and was arrested along with another Tunisian last week. According to a report from the daily newspaper 20 Minutes, investigators suspect the arson may have been motivated by insurance fraud.

Acts of arson have become an issue among some illegal immigrants in various parts of Europe, notably as a means to protest their accommodation situation, as was the case in Italy in 2020 when migrants set fires in a hotel being used as a reception centre in Sicily.

The migrants allegedly set the fires in protest of Wuhan coronavirus restrictions in which Italian authorities isolated the migrants shortly after their arrival in the country.

A similar tactic was used just months later on a much larger scale on the Greek island of Lesbos which saw several Afghan nationals being later found guilty of setting fires in the former Moria migrant camp that left around 13,000 people homeless.

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


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