Paris stunned by police deaths in 'anarchist' rampage

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The Independent Online
PARIS (AP) - A young couple tear-gassed two policemen, stole their guns and set off a wild chase through Paris, killing three police officers and a cab driver before one of the city's bloodiest rampages ended with their capture.

The murders late on Tuesday stunned a nation where only two other policemen had been killed in action all year, and prompted calls for restoration of the death penalty. Authorities could recall no other incident in which so many Paris policemen had been killed. Three officers and two civilian passers-by were injured.

The male suspect, Audry Maupin, 21, died of a severe chest wound at Bichat hospital last night, 24 hours after the chase. A second-year law student, he had been too badly hurt to undergo questioning. The woman, 19 or 20, refused to talk to investigators at police headquarters. She was identified as Florence Ray, from the working-class Paris suburb of Argenteuil, and had been living with Maupin as squatters in an abandoned building.

Investigators searching the woman's family home found documents bearing anarchist slogans and the name of a previously unknown group, 'The Organisation of Revolutionary Propaganda'. The words 'Death to the cops' were written on several of the documents.

The Interior Minister, Charles Pasqua, described the suspects as 'desperate young people, trapped in a fantasy of anarchist theories aimed at destroying society'. Right-wing leaders, including Jean-Marie Le Pen of the far-right National Front, said the best response to the killings would be to reinstate the death penalty, abolished in 1981.

Police unions demanded that the government provide more funds and manpower for law enforcement. And about 500 cab drivers assembled their vehicles at the Place de la Nation in honour of their murdered colleague, Amadou Diallo, 49, an immigrant from Guinea.

The bizarre incident began at 9.25pm on Tuesday when a masked couple scaled a fence at a car pound, sprayed tear gas at two policemen on duty, and made off with their pistols. For their getaway, the couple commandeered Diallo's taxi, taking the driver and a passenger hostage. About 10 minutes into the journey, Diallo deliberately rammed his taxi into a police car with three officers inside. Two of the officers got out of the car, and both were fatally wounded as the couple opened fire, police said. Diallo was executed by the young woman at point blank range, witnesses said.

'The police got out of their car within seconds,' said a witness. 'You could hear gunfire everywhere . . .Police were telling people, 'Get down, get down.' '

The couple next hijacked a car, taking the driver hostage. By this time, they were the object of an all-out search, and soon were overtaken by police motorcyclists. A final shoot-out ensued, killing one of the motorcycle officers and badly injuring another.

Killings of on-duty policemen are rare in France - only 22 officers have been killed in action in the past five years.

Cab drivers appealed for tougher security measures, and threatened a strike to coincide with Diallo's yet-unscheduled funeral. The policemen's funeral was scheduled for tomorrow.

(Photograph omitted)