| 27 May 2024, Monday |

Macron pledges to restore order after spate of gangland murders in Marseille

In light of a surge in drug related murders in the Mediterranean city, French President Emmanuel Macron has begun a three-day visit to Marseille.

In 2021 alone, 15 killings have been blamed on gang violence with a 14-year-old boy who was shot dead two weeks ago among the victims. Another two people were shot dead last weekend in a drive-by shooting and another man was forced into a car and burnt alive.

Mr Macron’s trip is regarded as a reinforcement of his investment in security and education, only eight months before presidential elections.

He has pledged €150 million ($177.6m) in additional funding and another 200 police officers will be drafted in to the area next year.

“Around 100 police officers out of the 300 that are due to come have already arrived and, given the recent developments on the ground, we have decided to speed up the arrivals – 200 more will come next year, which will accelerate things and add boots on the ground,” he said.

As the centre of Marseille’s drug trade, the city’s northern districts are particularly prone to violence and are some of France’s most deprived areas.

“I’ve suffered so much, I can’t put it into words. I want to leave,” one woman on the verge of tears told Mr Macron as he met residents of the Bassens estate.

“We won’t give up,” Mr Macron told police officers. “We have improving results. We’ll carry on, to the end, in making sure drug-dealing spots close permanently.”

Newly elected mayor Benoit Payan has vowed to invest hundreds of millions of euros to renovate 200 of the city’s 472 public schools.

Mr Macron’s main challenger, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, is set to put safety and security at the top of her campaign agenda.