France shocked by ‘savage’ New Year’s Eve attacks on police

Police protest against violence in Paris in October 2016. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

French political leaders have vowed justice after a shocking attack on a female police officer on New Year's Eve was filmed and posted online.

The attack in the eastern Paris suburb of Champigny-sur-Marne saw the officer knocked to the ground before being repeatedly kicked and punched in the head and body.

President Emmanuel Macron called the crime a "cowardly and criminal lynching", and vowed that those responsible would be caught and punished.

The incident took place in the early hours of New Year's Day after an emergency call out to a private party where huge crowds had turned up and security were forced to turn hundreds away.

Police were called when a group of around 20 people, who refused to leave the event, broke into the "hangar" where the party was taking place. The area was cleared by police.

It's not clear what happened next but two police officers, one female and one male, became isolated among the crowd. Video images show youths turning over a police patrol car to cheers from crowds.

Then images show the policewoman knocked to the road and repeatedly kicked and punched.

Her colleague was also attacked and suffered a broken nose.

On Tuesday, reports of another attack on police officers emerged, this time in the northern suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois when police stopped two youths suspected of stealing a scooter.

One officer was punched several times while another fired his gun into the air to scare off the attackers.

The attacks on the police were widely condemned by France's outraged political class, who offered solidarity to the injured officers but also demanded swift and tough justice for those responsible. Far right leader Marine Le Pen demanded a reform to allow police to greater use of "legitimate defense" to respond to such attacks.

Pressure grew on France's interior minister Gerard Collomb, who called the attacks "savage" and "unacceptable".

He denounced a "society of violence" that "cannot continue to exist".

Collomb vowed "deep" reforms to solve the violence in France's deprived neighbourhoods.

"These areas cannot remain like this".

But the two New Year's attacks on police are just the latest in a long line of incidents in which the forces of law and order have been targeted.

In October 2016 a police patrol car was attacked with petrol bombs in a suburb near Paris leaving officers seriously injured.

Politicians condemned the attack and police officers staged protests on the Champs-Elysées to denounce the violence.

“We want to fight against the trivialization of violence against the police,” one police officer in Nice told the Nice Matin newspaper at the time.

“We want to be heard by our hierarchy and by the judiciary. If we become victims ourselves, who will protect the public?

“We are under huge demand, but younger colleagues are being discouraged.”

Another police officer told the LCI news site: "We don't feel safe anymore so the French people don't either."

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