From the ABC:
Clown terror spreads in France, another teenager arrested
A 14-year-old dressed as a clown has been arrested near Paris for attempting to attack a woman, in the latest incident of fake, evil clowns terrorising passers-by in France.
Complaints have poured in recently over “armed clowns” wreaking havoc in various parts of the country.
Police have detained several people dressed as the pranksters – some carrying pistols, knives and baseball bats.
The bizarre phenomenon has even prompted anti-clown vigilantism, forcing police to try to quell the hysteria by saying there have only been a few sightings of the terrifying clowns.
On Monday, a woman who had just got out of her car in Chelles, an eastern suburb 18 kilometres from central Paris, called the police, saying two clowns – one of whom was armed with a fake axe – had attacked her, a source said.
They escaped when a passer-by armed with a baseball bat tried to stop them.
One of the pranksters was later detained when police spotted him, white make-up still covering his face.
In a separate incident just half-an-hour afterwards, a dozen people wearing the smiling, white masks associated with the Anonymous hacktivist collective attacked three youths and stole their mobile phones at a station in Melun, a south-eastern suburb of Paris.
The “evil clown” trend previously seen in the United States and Britain only began in the north of France in early October.
In the town of Bethune, a 19-year-old received a six-month suspended jail term last week for threatening passers-by while dressed as a clown.
The “clowns” have been “mostly spotted outside schools, but also on public roads, in bushes, and in a square.
Their targets are often young children or teenagers, but also adults,” a police source in northern France said. It then spread to the south of France.
‘Clown hunters’ also on police radar
French police released information warning against armed anti-clown vigilantes taking to the streets.
“The National Police have received many reports of clowns frightening passers-by, but many are fanciful and the proportion of children,” the police service said on its Facebook page.
“Symptomatic of the impact of the internet, this phenomenon can generate harmful individual derivatives and disturbances to public order.
“On social networks, groups calling for collective mobilisations against clowns have appeared.
“Any person, aggressive clowns or hunters of clowns, discovered in possession of a weapon on the highway will be arrested.”
Police on Saturday night arrested 14 teenagers dressed as clowns and carrying weapons in the Mediterranean port town of Agde.
In the nearby city of Montpellier, a man disguised as a clown was arrested after beating a pedestrian with an iron bar.
Theories abound as to the origin of the not-so-funny trend of violence in a country where Halloween has yet to take hold.
The suggestions include a challenge launched on social networks, a popular video on YouTube showing a terrifying clown pranking people or even a recent episode of the popular TV series American Horror Story featuring Twisty the killer clown.