Gunmen target police before prime minister visit

MARSEILLE, FRANCE — Several hooded gunmen clashed with French police in the early hours of Monday morning, the Washington Post reports. The violence occurred in the port city of Marseille, where the prime minister was due to visit later that day to speak about security and education.

Authorities are still investigating whether the attack was related to the prime minister’s visit, an act of terrorism, or gang-related violence. Violence involving drug gangs and human traffickers is common in Marseille, particularly in the Castellane area where the attack occurred.

As police responded to the shots with tactical units, businesses and schools were placed on lockdown. At the time of this writing, it is unclear if any casualties occurred.

The attack comes on the heels of a recent spate of violence in France; last month, Islamic extremists attacked several sites in Paris, including the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. A total of 17 people were killed during the violence. Last week, in Nice, a knife-wielding man attacked soldiers stationed outside a Jewish center.

Since the clashes in Paris, France and other European countries have increased counterterrorism practices. French troops have been stationed outside many places of worship and other public sites.

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