Two gunmen have opened fire on a crowd outside a French mosque in Avignon, south France, leaving eight wounded. The police have described them as two “hooded” men, one wielding a handgun, one a rifle.
According to a report by The Mirror, people were leaving the Arrahma mosque after services at around 10:30 p.m. local time when one of the men, exiting his vehicle, opened fire on the crowd. At least four were wounded as the crowd panicked and attempted to flee.
— La Provence (@laprovence) July 2, 2017
A family of four in a second-floor apartment about 50 meters away, one a seven-year-old girl, was also struck by shrapnel from the attack and slightly wounded, according to French newspaper La Provence.
Police have allegedly “completely dismissed” allegations that this was a terrorist attack. Local prosecutor Laure Chabaud suggested that initial reports indicated that the attack appeared as if it might be the result of a quarrel between young people.
Police and firefighters remain on the scene; the number and nature of casualties from the attack remains up in the air.
According to The Sun, the attackers appeared to speed their car into the crowd before opening fire, and police are presently hunting for suspects.
While police continue to maintain that the attack was not Muslim-related terrorism, it echoes another only two days prior, in which a man attempted to drive a car into a crowd outside of a mosque in Paris. That attack resulted in no injuries, doing moderate damage to the building; the attacker was arrested “without incident” at his home soon after, according to police. The motive of that attack remains unclear, but Paris newspapers have suggested that the man believed that he was avenging ISIS-linked attacks in France.
Two weeks prior, on June 19, a U.K. man named Darren Osborne, 47, drove his van into a crowd of Muslims leaving a mosque in London, killing one and wounding several others; Osborne was later arrested for terrorism-related murder and attempted murder.
Update: French prosecutors are now saying that they suspect the shooting to have been due to a gangland dispute, according to The Telegraph. Police have still released no details on any suspects they may have.
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