The police chief in a French town reeling from an attack on its mayor’s home has told Sky News his officers are involved in “a war” against rioters “who are there to kill us”.
Eric Vergne has led the response to an attack that has shocked the French nation.
A burning car was driven into the front of the suburban home of Vincent Jeanbrun, the mayor of L’Hay-les-Roses in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Mr Jeanbrun was not at home at the time, but his wife was forced to flee the home along with their two young children.
She suffered a fractured leg as she escaped.
Mr Vergne attended an event to show solidarity with the town’s mayor.
He said: “People talk about riots, but for those of us who have to deal with all this, it’s not riots – it’s war.
“The people who are standing in front of us are there to kill us.
“They have Molotov cocktails, they have cobbles, they come to within three metres in front of us.
“They have enormous paving stones that they throw at us to try to kill us. They don’t want to play with us. They are there to kill us.”
After the attack on the Jeanbrun family home, the prosecutor opened a formal investigation into attempted murder. Mrs Jeanbrun has undergone surgery and, according to her husband, is unlikely to walk for several months.
Within hours of the attack, the town was visited by both the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, and the Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin.
Mr Vergne said that his officers were intent on upholding the law and restoring order to the area. L’Hay-les-Roses is normally a quiet town. One resident, who has lived here for 45 years, told us that she had never known such a crime to occur.
Read more on the France riots
“We must show them that the republic is stronger,” he said. “We must have a presence. We must be careful.
“We should not be overtaken by hatred and anger. We must arrest, judge and then show them that we respect the laws and that nothing is stronger than the republic.”
Major violence has spread through urban areas across France in recent days following the police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Nanterre.