Peter Allen — MailOnline Feb 1, 2018
Four UK-bound migrants were shot and four others seriously injured by improvised weapons in Calais tonight as police tried to break up a bloody fight between rival gangs.
The mass brawl, which lasted more than two hours, was by far the worst of a number of violent incidents in recent weeks.
At least three of the migrants whose lives was in danger was rushed to an emergency ward in Lille for immediate surgery.
The rest of those with gunshot wounds and others with injuries caused by clubs and knifes were taken to the central hospital in Calais.
The riot, which involved hundreds, started among a long line of migrants who had been queuing for food near the hospital, on Boulevard des Justes.
The mainly Afghan and Eritrean gangs clashed soon after 3.30pm on Thursday as charity workers distributed meals close to the ferry port.
At least three were in a life-threatening condition as French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said he was on the way to the port town to deal with the emergency.
A local police spokesman said: ‘The toll is eight wounded, with four seriously hurt including three with life-threatening injuries.’
It was not immediately clear who had done the shooting, although people smugglers occasionally carry pistols, as do some of the migrants themselves.
Hundreds armed with rocks, wooden clubs and other improvised weapons were involved in the rioting, which went on until shortly before 6 pm.
Afterwards, Mr Collomb tweeted: ‘After the serious incidents that occurred today, I am going to Calais this evening for a situational meeting with the Prefect, the Mayor of the city and other local officials.
‘I will meet our security forces and emergency services in particularly difficult times.’
Police who intervened in the fighting used tear gas and baton charges to restore order, as running battles took place.
Many of the migrants complained about CRS riot control officers pulling down tents and bivouacs set up in woods close to the ferry port.
Many of them were heard chanting obscenities at the police, as some were taken into custody.
Then a second brawl also erupted in an industrial area around two miles away, in the suburb of Marck.
A spokesman for the prefecture which covers Calais said: ‘Police intervened to protect the Afghan migrants faced with 150 to 200 Eritrean migrants.
Fights usually break out over the routes that migrants use to get into the UK, where they will claim asylum.
People smugglers make huge profits guiding mainly young men into Britain, via ferries or the Channel Tunnel.
By 9 pm, police said that a total of 13 migrants were seriously wounded, as other victims were found by police around the town.
Calais mayor said Natacha Bouchart reacted with fury to the incidents, saying such violence ‘was absolutely unacceptable’.
Ms Bouchart said: ‘The serious incidents multiplied from this afternoon. This was fighting between migrants, these were turf wars.
‘They are more and more guns, iron bars and other weapons being used.
‘We have to clear the area. This is a security issue. The public can’t carry on accepting this situation.’