Calais migrants: Five shot in mass brawl


A migrant receives medical assistance by rescue workers following clashes near the ferry port in Calais, northern France, 01 February 2018.Image copyright

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A man gets medical help from rescue workers after clashes in Calais, northern France

At least five migrants have been shot in the French port city of Calais, after a mass brawl between Afghans and Eritreans.

Four Eritrean youths aged 16-18 are in a critical condition and have been rushed to a local hospital for surgery, AFP news agency reports.

A fifth man was taken to nearby Lille due to the severity of his injuries.

At least 13 more people were wounded due to “blows from iron bars”, the local prosecutor’s office said.

What led to the violence?

The cause of the clashes is not yet clear but the initial fight on the city’s southern outskirts broke out in the afternoon, where migrants had been queuing for food handouts.

Around 100 Eritreans and some 30 Afghans were caught up in the violence, which lasted almost two hours and started when an Afghan fired shots, AFP said.

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A group of migrants pictured with sticks during the clashes

A second melee erupted shortly afterwards at an industrial site around 5km (three miles) away, when between 150 and 200 Eritreans armed with iron rods and sticks clashed with about 20 Afghans, the local prefecture said.

Later on in the afternoon further violence broke out at a food distribution point in an area of Calais not far from the site of the old migrant camp known as the Jungle.

French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb visited Calais overnight and said the clashes had been exceptionally serious. One of the most seriously wounded was said to have been hit by a bullet in the back of the neck.

“There’s been an escalation of violence that has become unbearable for both the people of Calais and the migrants,” the minister said.

Security forces were sent to the area and there were no reports of incidents during the night.

Why are the migrants there?

Though the Jungle camp was demolished in 2016, hundreds of migrants are still living rough in the nearby woods, hoping to reach the UK. Many of those left are young men.

Local charities put the number of such migrants living in Calais at around 800, while the authorities say there are between 550 and 600.

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Media captionThe migrants living where the Calais Jungle once stood

Tensions between Afghans and Africans always run high in the area, the BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris reports.

This is the worst violence between migrants in Calais for months, and the use of firearms is a worrying escalation, our correspondent adds.

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