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French prosecutors probe death of man ‘likely caused by rubber bullet to the chest’

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into the death of a man during riots in Marseille.

The 27-year-old was hit by a “flash-ball” projectile at the time of the riots in the city on Saturday, the Marseille prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.

The riots followed the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre last week.


Prosecutors said the cause of death of the man in Marseille was a cardiac arrest, likely caused by a violent shock to the chest from a rubber bullet – the type used by riot police.

Rioters in Marseille. Pic: Reuters/Instagram @szin___

However, they did not specify who fired or owned the “flash-ball” gun – which is designed to be non-lethal.

Prosecutors said it was not possible to determine where the man was or whether he had taken part in the riots when he was shot.

Read more:
Inside the concrete jungles where extreme poverty may have fuelled riots
Rioter ‘revolted’ by fatal police shooting of boy warns Paris violence could return

The man died overnight on 1 July to 2 July – when some 45,000 police were on the streets with specialised elite units, armoured vehicles and helicopters brought in to reinforce France’s three largest cities, Paris, Lyon and Marseille.

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Why are people rioting in France?

In Marseille, police fired tear gas and fought street battles with youths around the city centre late into the night.

Some 2,400 people have been arrested since clashes began last Tuesday.


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