French election: Paris attack puts security top among rivals

Cheryl Sanders
April 21, 2017

The attack unfolded on the Champs-Elysees around 9 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) when a auto stopped in front of a police van, according to French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet.

April. 21 (ANI): The attacker, who killed a police officer in Paris's Champs-Elysees area, was known for radical Islamist activities by the French security services.

It is not certain whether the attack is terrorist related but France's President Francois Hollande says the Champs- Elysees shooting is "terrorist in nature".

Mr Hollande said he was convinced the attack was "terrorist-related", adding that the security forces had the full support of the nation and a national tribute would be paid to the fallen policeman.

The attacker - identified as Karim Cheurfi - opened fire on a police van parked on the famed boulevard late Thursday, killing one cop and seriously injuring two others before being shot dead.

Paris prosecutor François Molins said shortly after the shootings that "the attacker's identity is known and has been verified".

The French have identified the man as a troubled 39-year old who had previously served time for the attempted murder of three police officers in 2001, and who was on the security service's watch list.

The 11 candidates standing in Sunday's closely fought presidential election were engaged in a final joint TV appearance to argue their policies as the attack happened.

The extremist group has named the attacker as Abu Yusuf al Beljiki and suggested he was a Belgian.

"I think we must one and all have a spirit of responsibility at this extreme time and not give in to panic and not allow it to be exploited, which some might try to do".

He was shot dead in return fire while trying to escape, police sources said.

ISIS has since claimed the attack, but the French authorities say they don't have a connection of the shooter to ISIS yet.

The man, named in reports as Karim Cheurfi, got out of a vehicle on the Champs-Élysées on Thursday night and started shooting.

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "Once again the police family is in mourning and it serves to underline how fearless officers are putting their life on the line day in and day out to protect the public".

The officials spoke on Friday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorised to publicly discuss details of the probe into Thursday night's attack.

Three of the four presidential frontrunners - Le Pen, centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative Francois Fillon - called off campaign events planned for Friday in the wake of the attack. ISIS names a man it claims was involved in the attack.

Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to guard tourist hotspots such as the Champs Elysees or other potential targets, including government buildings and religious sites.

During the campaign, Trump notably seized on terror attacks as evidence that his warnings about the dangers of "radical Islamic terrorism" were validated.

Other reports by iNewsToday