Emergency meeting called after latest shootings in Marseille

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Interior minister Manuel Valls calls for crisis meeting after two fatal shootings in Marseille, where 15 people have already been murdered this year.

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The killing of two men within a few hours of each other in Marseille on Thursday has reignited the debate as to how to tackle the longstanding crime problem in France’s second city, where 15 people have already been murdered this year, reports FRANCE 24.

For the citizens of Marseille, a city dubbed France’s "crime capital", it was a familiar story: two men gunned down on the streets within hours of each other in suspected gang-related killings.

The only factor that set Thursday’s killings apart from the year's previous murders was that one of the victims, 30-year-old Adrien Anigo, was the son of a prominent figure: Olympique Marseille football club president José Anigo.

Fifteen people have already been murdered in similar killings in Marseille since the beginning of the year, while 2012's toll came in at 24. Most of these murders have been related to gangs involved in drug trafficking.

The city's overall murder rate, at 5.3 per 100,000 inhabitants, is more than five times the nationwide figure.

The latest killings, and the media attention they have received in France, have pushed the government to make fresh promises to crack down on crime in Marseille and tackle the city’s longstanding drug problem.

France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday called for a “national pact” to solve the crisis, with an emergency “roundtable” meeting involving all the city’s elected officials set to be held on Saturday morning.

“I asked the regional prefect and the chief of police to hold a meeting with all the elected officials to define how they can work together [to tackle this problem] as soon as possible,” said Valls.

“We need to bring everyone around the table to give hope back to Marseille.”

But for those tasked with solving Marseille’s crime problem, coming up with a fresh and effective approach could prove challenging.

Successive federal governments have vowed to deal with the issue through various security measures, without much progress being made.

In September last year, France’s Socialist government unveiled a plan aimed at stemming the violence in Marseille once and for all. Around 230 extra police were deployed in the city, while certain sectors in the north and south of the city were declared "priority security zones".

But despite these measures, more killings followed, prompting Valls and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in August to announce they were sending 130 more riot police and 24 investigative officers to Marseille.

With the latest bloodshed in the city suggesting these measures have yet to prove effective, questions have been raised as to whether simply increasing police numbers once more will make a significant difference.

Read more of this report from FRANCE 24.

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