Le Pen campaign HQ in Paris targeted by arson attack

The Paris headquarters of far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was the target of a suspected arson attack early Thursday morning, with the leader of the National Front (FN) party suggesting that left-wing extremists were to blame.

Philippe Lopez, AFP | The entrance to the building housing the headquarters of France's far-right National Front (FN) party in Paris on April 13, 2017

Firefighters rushed to the campaign's offices on the capital's prestigious rue du Faubourg St. Honoré, near the l'Arc de Triomphe, around 2:30 am and “quickly brought [the fire] under control”. A door and a doormat on the ground floor were nevertheless damaged, police and fire sources said.

A window was also shattered and the graffiti tag “FN vs KLX” was found outside the building, which houses Le Pen's campaign headquarters, but also an insurance office.

Police said the small blaze was “not accidental, and likely a criminal act”. A group calling itself “Kombattre La Xénophobie”, or Fight Xenophobia, later claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to the AFP news agency.

The person who phoned in said the group had used Molotov cocktails against the National Front's Paris offices and pledged to carry out similar attacks “every day up until the elections”.

French voters will pick the country’s new president in a two-round election on April 23 and May 7. Le Pen is on pace to win the most votes in the first round of the election, according to opinion polls, but is expected to lose the run-off.

Speaking on French television on Thursday morning, the FN candidate said she knew nothing of the incident, “since state authorities failed to contact us to tell us what happened.”

“I imagine this probably comes from a small leftist group. These extremists have felt like they can do whatever they want for several months now,” she said.

Reacting to the incident on French radio, French Interior Minister Matthias Fekl condemned “unacceptable acts”.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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