Drug crime

Four suspects arrested over fatal shooting of French police officer in Avignon

Police officers and civilians gather at a police station in Avignon, southern France, Sunday, May 9, 2021 in memory of police officer Eric Masson who was killed Wednesday at a known drug-dealing site in Avignon.
Police officers and civilians gather at a police station in Avignon, southern France, Sunday, May 9, 2021 in memory of police officer Eric Masson who was killed Wednesday at a known drug-dealing site in Avignon. AP - Daniel Cole

Police have arrested four people suspected of shooting dead a French policeman in the city of Avignon last week, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced on Monday.

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The four suspects were arrested on Sunday around 20 kilometres from Avignon, in connection with last Wednesday's killing of police officer Eric Masson.

Among them is the suspected shooter, his accomplice and a driver. The fourth person is the sister of one of the suspects, according to a source close to the investigation.

"This crime will not go unpunished," tweeted Gérald Darmanin, as he congratulated the police for having the made the arrests. He also confirmed that all the suspects are French.

They came a few hours after several hundred people attended a ceremony in honour of the fallen officer at Avignon's police commissariat.

The death of the 36 year old officer, shot and killed while investigating activity at a known drug-dealing site in Avignon, has caused deep shock in the city which is better known for its summer theatre festival than for violent crime.

Prime Minister Jean Castex and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin are due to attend a homage to Masson in Avignon on Tuesday.

The shooting of the police officer came less than a month after an attacker fatally stabbed a police employee in Rambouillet, near Paris, which President Emmanuel Macron has described as a terror attack.

The Rambouillet attacker, who had watched jihadist videos in the lead up to the murder, was shot dead by police.

The recent murders of police officers have reignited debate over President Emmanuel Macron’s record on security and fighting crime.

France faces a presidential election next year and issues such as fears over terror attacks, immigration and violent crime will be prominent.

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