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Four migrants were fighting for their lives on Friday after being shot during a giant brawl in Calais, in what the French government called an “intolerable” escalation of violence in a port that serves as a gateway to Britain.

Twenty-two people were hospitalised with injuries after three fights across the city on Thursday that drew in hundreds of the migrants camped out in the hope of stowing away on trucks bound for England, according to officials.

Four Eritreans between 16 and 20 years old were shot in the neck, chest, abdomen and spine at a food distribution point, and remained in critical condition Friday evening. A fifth who was also shot was not facing life-threatening injuries.

Police were searching for a 37-year-old Afghan, a suspected migrant smuggler, over the attack.

“It sounds like score-settling: the person or persons responsible for the gunfire arrived at the food distribution area near the hospital where the Eritrean community was gathered and immediately opened fire,” an official at the prosecutor’s office in the nearby town of Boulogne-sur-Mer said.

A number of other migrants sustained stab wounds in the other melees sparked by the incident.

There were no signs of tension at the site of the attack on Friday, but, according to an official source, raids by states services “intensified”, with several buses taking mainly Afghan migrants to other centres in the region.

French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking during a visit to Senegal Friday, said France would deal with the situation in a “humane and efficient manner”, adding that new reception centres would be opened in the coming weeks.

But he stressed the distinction between bona fide asylum seekers and economic migrants.

“Those who arrive illegally, and who don’t have the right to asylum, we will send back to their country of origin,” Macron said. Read More …