Beautiful France trembles at the “savagery” of the drug wars.

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People ran screaming when the first shots rang out. Hooded gunmen in black overalls took to the streets, firing bursts of Kalashnikovs, apparently in pursuit of a rival group.

It sounded like something from the Mexican narco war. But the scene, filmed over the phone by a shocked spectator last month in Nice, highlighted not only the rise in gang violence, but also a more serious scourge identified by a government minister as “savagery”.

From the French Riviera to the English Channel, the Gallic holiday season has been poisoned this year not only by the pandemic but by a wave of extremely violent crimes exposing a dark side to the “beautiful France” of brochures.

When the new Prime Minister, Jean Castex, was appointed last month, he vowed to “put a

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