Paris Police Open Terrorism Probe After Deadly Shooting

Cheryl Sanders
April 21, 2017

"The attacker, who was driving a auto, approached a patrol vehicle, left the auto and opened fire at police officers".

ISIS claimed that the attacker, whom police killed in a gunfight but have not publicly identified, was "one of the fighters for the Islamic State". Unconfirmed reports say he used an AK-47 in the attack itself.

Forensic experts investigate the crime scene after a fatal shooting in which a police officer was killed along with an attacker on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France, Friday, April 21, 2017.

"The versions now being considered by the investigation are related to terrorism", Hollande said, adding that the National Security and Defense Council will gather for an emergency meeting at the Elysee Palace on Friday morning.

The area was sealed off for several hours with dozens of people locked up in shops, restaurants and cinema around the Champs Elysees. All candidates involved in the race to become the next French head of state have expressed their horror at the attack.

ISIS very quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, through the group's semi-official news agency Amaq, reports the SITE intelligence group. "He opened fire on a police auto with an automatic weapon, killing one of the police officers and trying to attack others while running", a police source told the agencies, asking not be named.

President François Hollande is to chair a security cabinet meeting, as France readies for Sunday's presidential poll.

"Over the next few days more than 50,000 police officers and gendarmes will be mobilised to ensure a calm and peaceful election".

Concerns over security have been raised since Tuesday when two men were arrested for plotting an attack before the French presidential election, which is set to begin on Sunday.

The attacker emerged from a auto and used an automatic weapon to shoot at officers outside a Marks & Spencer store at the centre of the Champs-Elysees, anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins said.

The Frenchman was convicted in 2003 of attempted murder in the shooting of two police officers.

Fillon also said the fight against "Islamist totalitarianism" should be the priority of the next president.

The vote is being closely watched as a pivotal event amid a global swing to the right, including Trump's election in November and Britain's decision to exit the European Union last summer, a move the U.S. president has applauded.

Thursday's attack came three days before the first round of balloting in France's tense presidential election, hotly disputed by far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

It is yet another assault on the French capital, which was hit by one of the worst terror attacks in recent history in November 2015 when bombers and gunmen killed 130 people. "We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant, and I've been saying that for a long time".

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