French police open fire at migrants' dinghy trying to stop it reaching the UK

The attack, the first known rubber bullet case in which a boat was stopped by migrants, has sparked an investigation by French national police authorities

A rubber dinghy with migrants, women and children crosses the shipping lane in the English Channel (photo from July) (

Image: Getty Images)

French police opened fire on a migrant dinghy with potentially lethal rubber bullets to prevent their illegal boat from crossing the Channel into the UK.

The attack, the first known case of weapons tactics to stop a migrant boat launch, has prompted an investigation by the French national police authorities.

The incident marked a surge in tension on the beaches as night gendarmerie patrols battle to control the fleet of boats en route to the UK.

Two Iranian Kurds hit by the bullets were taken to hospital after the shooting – one with a broken leg and the other with a broken hand.

The shooting occurred in the dark in Dunkirk, five miles from Grande Synthe, with eight Iranian Kurds carrying an inflatable boat that was supposed to bring 40 migrants from France towards the sea.

Hundreds of migrants live in desolate camps in the woods near Grande Synthe, waiting for a boat to go to Britain.

The shooting is being investigated by the French national police authorities
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

Corresponding Email online The porters reportedly claim that the group of armed police laughed at them when their injured comrades fell to the ground.

One of the injured migrants, 24-year-old Juanro Rasuli, was lying in Dunkirk central hospital last night with a broken left leg wrapped in bandages.

He allegedly refused to speak out for fear of reprisals.

A second man is treated as an outpatient after being shot in the hand.

The shooting is said to have taken place after a loud altercation between the Iranian Kurds, who were about to launch the boat, and the French patrol unit, which is said to be determined to stop them.

This year, more than 17,000 multinational migrants have reached the UK after completing the 21-mile canal crossing.

Tensions rise as Home Secretary Priti Patel threatened to withhold £ 54 million in payments from the UK to the French government for beach patrols in northern France if officials fail to reduce the flow of migrant boats.

An Iranian Kurd who called himself Mohammed remembered what he had said on the early morning of May 22nd last night.

“There were eight of us with the boat near the beach. We were preparing to bring it to market for 40 people who wanted to come to your country, ”he told the mail.

“Then three or four policemen came in a vehicle. A police officer shot Juanro Rasuli at close range. I don’t remember how many times they fired the rubber bullets. “

Mohammed said the police yelled “stop” when they saw the migrants sticking to it but were still being shot at.

A video recorded by the migrants after the shooting showed Mr Rasuli lying on the ground with his legs bleeding.

When the other injured person shows his injured hand to the camera, a voice can be heard in Kurdish saying that the police could laugh at them.

Rubber bullets, which typically have a metal core with a rubber coating, are known to be fatal and have historically caused blindness and permanent disability in those struck.

The bullets are widely used to control civil unrest in France, but were considered so dangerous that they were banned by police on mainland Britain until 2001.

French sources insist that their beach patrols only use a show of force when it is “proportionate” and the officials are endangered by a “seriously hostile” situation.

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