Shocking images of masked gunmen opening fire in Marseille and a brutal daylight murder underlined the problem of urban violence in France yesterday as President Emmanuel Macron announces a strategy to tackle the issue.
Elsewhere in France, police in the southern city of Pau are still investigating the murder of a 32-year-old man in another poverty-ridden, high-immigration area, who was beaten to death by a gang of teenagers. Terrified witnesses, some of them picnicking with children early on Friday evening, have helped identify three suspects who are thought to have taken part in what Le Parisien newspaper described as a "horrifying lynching."
The incidents came as Macron prepares to unveil a long-awaited strategy for tackling the entrenched social problems which are concentrated in many ghettoized areas of the country's towns and cities.
The 40-year-old leader has faced criticism from many associations and leftist lawmakers for failing to put the problems of the poorest areas of France at the heart of his agenda since his election in May 2017.
A host of local officials from such areas, where immigrants have concentrated over decades, have warned about the problems of crime, poverty and Islamic fundamentalist ideologies blighting the lives of local families.
Many of the home-grown militants inspired by the Daesh terrorist group that have struck France since 2015 have hailed from marginalized, often high-rise areas known as "les banlieues" where public housing is concentrated.
Presidential aides have said Macron will avoid announcing a new strategy based on huge increases in public spending. "The aim is not to reinvent grand projects" that are top-down," an aide told reporters last week.
Macron is likely instead to insist on his government's record of investing in schools in poor areas, creating a new community police service for crime-hit zones, and economic reforms which he believes will generate more jobs. He is also expected to back new efforts to tackle discrimination that sees many young people from poor areas, particularly those with African or Arab-sounding names, struggle to find jobs.