French photojournalist in coma after youth gang attack

image copyrightAFP
image captionThe attack happened in the Croix-Rouge area of Reims

A French photojournalist is in a coma after being attacked at the weekend while covering youth violence.

Christian Lantenois, 65, was assaulted in a car park in the north-eastern city of Reims while working for L'Union newspaper.

He was found bleeding from his ears after he sustained "very severe" head injuries in the attack.

A 21-year-old man has been charged with attempted aggravated murder and a second suspect has been identified.

The charged suspect is accused of beating the photographer with his fist and then using his own camera as a weapon against him.

The public prosecutor said Mr Lantenois was targeted "because he was a journalist" and had been trying to take photographs of individuals when he was spotted and set upon.

He had gone to the area with a reporter amid reports that dozens of young people armed with bats were preparing for a mass brawl.

Images from the scene showed a large bloodstain on the floor where the photographer was found. Officials said the extent of his head wounds meant he had been placed into an induced coma.

The assault has prompted widespread condemnation in France, with senior politicians among those expressing support for Mr Lantenois.

"To target a journalist is to threaten that which we hold dearest: our liberty," tweeted Gerard Larcher, the head of the Senate.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

In an update on Wednesday, prosecutors said Mr Lantenois remained in a critical condition.

A profile on the newspaper's website said that he had been working for L'Union since the 1980s in a variety of roles and described him as "crazy about his job".

The attack happened at about 15:00 (14:00 GMT) on Saturday afternoon and police had previously appealed for witnesses.

The assault lasted less than a minute and the second suspect had been identified but not yet arrested, officials said.

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