The violent protests and unrest that spread across France after the fatal police shooting of a teenager last week diminished significantly overnight, the authorities said on Monday.
Still, as a reminder that tensions remain high, French mayors called for peaceful gatherings around the country to protest a spate of violent attacks on elected officials.
Nearly 160 people were arrested and three law enforcement officers were injured overnight, the Interior Ministry said on Monday morning, far fewer than in previous days, when as many as 1,300 people were taken into custody.
“When you arrest 3,200 people, when the courts put people on trial, when you put on a show of republican force — a fair order, but order nonetheless — I think that has largely contributed to this return to calm,” Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, told reporters in Reims on Monday.
Fewer incidents were reported across the country, after the authorities deployed 45,000 police officers and gendarmes for the third night in a row in an effort to bring the situation under control.
Nearly a week of violence was set off by the fatal police shooting of Nahel Merzouk, a 17-year-old of North African descent, during a traffic stop last Tuesday morning in Nanterre, a Paris suburb.
The officer who fired the shot has not been publicly identified. He was quickly placed under formal investigation on charges of voluntary homicide and detained.
Two passengers were in the car with Mr. Merzouk when he was killed. One has already been questioned by the police and released. The other fled the scene but was questioned by investigators as a witness on Monday, according to the prosecutor’s office in Nanterre.
The killing tapped into a deep-seated resentment toward the police, who have faced accusations of violence and discrimination, in particular by residents in disenfranchised urban suburbs.
While many residents of those suburbs have said that they understood the anger that first sparked the unrest, they have also condemned the violence, which morphed from an outburst of rage concentrated in the Paris suburbs into a broader wave of violence.
French officials have said the violence was carried out by a minority that was motivated by something other than justice for Mr. Merzouk and wider concerns about their treatment at the hands of the authorities.
“When you loot a Foot Locker, a Lacoste store or a Sephora boutique, there is no political message,” Olivier Véran, the French government spokesman, said on Sunday.
Rioters have burned thousands of cars, attacked hundreds of buildings — including police stations, schools, businesses and town halls — looted supermarkets and stores, and clashed night after night for nearly a week with the police in cities around the country.
The Association of Mayors of France has called for peaceful gatherings at midday in front of town halls around the country to protest the violence. President Emmanuel Macron is also expected to meet on Tuesday with the mayors of over 200 municipalities hit by the unrest.
The latest violence against the officials was directly related to the unrest. Near Tours, rioters tried to set a mayor’s car on fire, while in Charly, a town south of Lyon, a flaming torch was placed in front of the mayor’s home.
There were already broader concerns that mayors, already the first to face discontent when state services are rolled back, are increasingly becoming targets of physical violence. Last year, the number of cases of threats, insults or physical assaults against mayors went up by nearly a third compared with 2021, according to official statistics.
“What we want today is a civic awakening,” David Lisnard, the mayor of Cannes and the head of the Association of Mayors of France said on Monday in front of his town hall, where hundreds of residents had gathered in support.
A weekend attack on the personal home of Vincent Jeanbrun, the mayor of L’Haÿ-les-Roses, a small, usually quiet town in the southern suburbs of Paris that was also rocked by the unrest, resonated throughout the country.
In the early hours of Sunday, as Mr. Jeanbrun was monitoring the situation at his office, assailants rammed a car into his home with the intention of setting it on fire, according to local prosecutors, who have opened an attempted-murder investigation.
The mayor’s wife fled through the back garden with the couple’s children, injuring her leg in the process.
The French government and politicians from across the spectrum have rallied to support Mr. Jeanbrun, who told the TF1 news channel on Sunday night that, “I never imagined that my family would be threatened with death.”
Mr. Jeanbrun, who grew up in L’Haÿ-les-Roses and is serving a second term after being elected for the first time at age 29, said that a “handful” of rioters were discrediting a city of over 30,000 inhabitants.
The burst of violence has underlined stark divisions in French society — some of which were on plain display through dueling online fund-raising efforts.
One fund, set up by the former spokesman for Eric Zemmour, a far-right presidential candidate, to support the family of the police officer, has raised over 900,000 euros, or about $980,000. The other, set up anonymously to help Mr. Merzouk’s family, has raised nearly 180,000 euros.
The authorities have also expressed alarm over the young age of many of those who have been arrested in the past week, urging parents to keep their children home.
In Reims, Mr. Darmanin said that the average age of those arrested was 17 and that some were as young as 12. About 60 percent of the 3,200 people arrested in the past week had no criminal record, he added.
One firefighter died overnight as he was battling a blaze that destroyed several cars in an underground parking lot in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris. The government said an investigation into the cause of his death was continuing, but the Paris Fire Department told local news media that the fire was unrelated to the unrest.