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Marseille gets more police to combat gang violence

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced Thursday that 205 more police would be deployed in the southern port city of Marseille in a bid to stem a rising tide of gang violence and fatal shootings related to the illegal drug trade.


AFP - French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Thursday announced beefed up security with 205 extra police to tackle deadly gang violence in Marseille following a wave of underworld shootings.

Ayrault, who presided over an inter-ministerial panel to discuss fighting crime in the gritty southern port city, said he wanted Marseille to shed its crime-ridden image and "become a great European metropolis."

He said its "destiny" was a "matter of national interest." Ayrault also said he would visit Marseille on Monday and Tuesday.

He also announced the creation of a new security zone in the city's southern quarters and pledged "new legal directives" and "strengthened penitentiary administration."

The Mediterranean port, long known as a hotbed of crime, has been struck by a wave of shootings with assault rifles in turf wars over the lucrative illegal drug trade.

A district mayor had urged the government to take drastic steps, even appealing for the army to be sent in, but the call was rejected quickly by senior officials.

The leading CGT trade union also says the city of some 850,000 residents has also been wracked by high unemployment and inadequate social housing.

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