A shooting outside the Arrahma mosque in France’s southeastern city of Avignon left eight people injured, including a seven-year-old girl, local police said, adding the attack was not an act of terrorism.
A group of hooded men opened fire at around 10:30 p.m. local time (21:30 GMT) on Sunday, using a hunting rifle and a handgun, police said. Two out of eight people present were wounded directly at the shooting scene, while others were hit by crossfire as they got out on their balconies.
Streetgangs Settling Scores
According to the information of the France Bleu radio station, the cause of the incident may be the settling of scores by street gangs, with police saying the event had no connection with terrorism, and that the incident took place in front of a mosque being a mere coincidence.
“What we know this evening is that the mosque was not a target, the events took place in the street where the religious building was but without the connection to the latter,” the police said.
Eyewitnesses saw four men in a car, all wearing hoods. A criminal investigation has been opened into the incident.
‘Islamophobia on the Rise’ in France?
French citizens reacted to the shooting pointing out that islamophobia was on the rise in the country, with “anti-Muslim bigotry and violence becoming a norm in France.”
The Sunday shooting comes just days after another incident, when a man attempted to ram his car into worshipers leaving a mosque in Creteil, in the southeast of Paris. The 43-year-old Armenian, who suffered from a psychological condition, made statements regarding the jihadist terror attacks which struck France in November 2015, leaving at least 130 people dead. The man did not cause any damage and was arrested by the police.
In 2015, following the deadly terror attacks in Paris, France introduced an official state of emergency, which has since been prolonged several times.