Gunmen Open Fire in Marseille

Gunmen Open Fire in MarseilleGunmen Open Fire in Marseille

Masked gunmen fired shots toward a police vehicle in the southern port city of Marseilles, French police officials said, hours before Prime Minister Manuel Valls was due to visit on Monday.

The men were armed with Kalashnikov rifles, said Pierre-Marie Bourniquel, regional director of public security. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Another police source said shots had been fired into the air, AFP reported.

Caroline Pozmentier, deputy mayor of Marseille, suggested the incident was part of a problem of drug trafficking in the area. A school had been evacuated, she said, adding, “This battle against drug trafficking is a long-term battle.”

Valls is on a two-day trip to Marseille to commend the recent drop in the city’s crime rates. Elite police deployed following the incident on the north side of the city and residents of La Castellane neighborhood, home to some 7,000, were ordered to stay indoors. A creche was evacuated as special forces were sent into the sealed-off estate, a police source said by telephone.

Valls has deplored the failure of decades of French urban and social policy which has led to what he called a social and ethnic “apartheid” across France.

France has been on high alert for security incidents following attacks in Paris last month that killed 17 people.