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French police arrest hundreds during protests
03:29 - Source: CNN
Paris, France CNN  — 

A tense atmosphere lingered in Nanterre on Saturday following the funeral of a French teenager who was fatally shot by police in the Paris suburb earlier this week.

Arrests continued to mount with more than 1,300 people detained Friday overnight into Saturday and another 121 people arrested Saturday during the fifth night of nationwide protests in France after the 17-year-old’s death, according to the French Interior Ministry.

Family and friends gathered Saturday afternoon local time for the funeral service at a mosque in Nanterre. The funeral was solemn and quiet, according to CNN’s team on the ground, with people waiting in silence for his coffin to leave the mosque and be taken for burial. The teenager has been buried in the Mont Valérien cemetery in Nanterre, CNN’s team reported.

A heavy security presence was in place around the mosque.

A French police officer stands guard next to vehicles burnt during a night of clashes between protesters and police, in Nanterre, Paris, on July 1, 2023.

The boy’s mother, Mounia, told television station France 5 on Friday that she blamed only the officer who shot her son, Nahel Merzouk, for his death. Nonetheless, the killing has sparked widespread destructive unrest and questions over whether race was a factor in his death.

Protests continued into the early hours of Saturday in defiance of a ban announced a day earlier on all “large-scale events” in the country, with rioting breaking out in several cities, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported.

France’s Interior Ministry said Saturday that 1,311 people had been detained following the fourth night of violence, an update on its previous figure. It said 2,560 fires had been reported on public roads, with 1,350 cars burned, and that there had been 234 incidents of damage or fire in buildings.

France activated 45,000 police and gendarmes across the country Saturday night, according to the country’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin.

“I think everyone understands that the government won’t back down,” Darmanin said.

He added the French government will heavily reinforce security forces in Lyon and Marseille, where violent clashes took place Friday night.

Many of those detained since the unrest began on Tuesday are minors. The average age of the more than 2000 detainees is 17 years old, Darmanin said.

Seventy-nine police and gendarmes were injured over the course of Friday night and there were 58 attacks on police and gendarme stations, according to the Interior Ministry.