- One police officer has been killed
- Two others have been wounded
- The gunman has also been killed after opening fire on the officers
- Police officials say he had been flagged as an extremist
- A major security operation is ongoing
- Francois Hollande says he believes attack of a ‘terrorist nature’
- So-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility
ONE POLICE OFFICER has been killed and two others wounded in a shooting on Paris’s famed Champs Elysees, just days ahead of France’s presidential election.
France’s interior ministry said the gunman was killed after opening fire on the officers at around 9pm (8pm Irish time) on the boulevard.
Anti-terror prosecutors have opened an investigation. The so-called Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.
“The attacker arrived by car and got out. He opened fire on a police car with an automatic weapon, killing one of the police officers and trying to attack others while running,” a police source told AFP, asking not be named.
The shopping street in the heart of the city has been blocked by armed officers and nearby metro stations have been closed.
Witnesses recounted scenes of panic as people ran for cover and sought shelter.
“We had to hide our customers in the basement,” Choukri Chouanine, manager of a restaurant near the site of the shooting, told AFP, saying there was “lots of gunfire”.
Dozens of vehicles from the emergency services were sent to the area, where a helicopter was also deployed.
French President Francois Hollande said that the shooting was suspected to be “of a terrorist nature”. He promised “absolute vigilance” ahead of the weekend election.
Two police officials said the assailant who shot the officers had been flagged as an extremist, according to the Associated Press.
The officials had no other details about the attacker, the news agency reported. They spoke on condition of anonymity to share information about the ongoing investigation.
It’s reported that a raid has taken place at the home of the attacker.
In comments to the media at the White House, US President Donald Trump said the incident “looks like another terrorist attack,” and sent his condolences to France.
France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, and which have killed over 230 people.
Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to guard tourist spots such as the Champs Elysees or other potential targets like government buildings and religious sites.
The shooting comes just two days after police arrested two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives, who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the first-round of the presidential election on Sunday.
Aides to a number of the candidates said they had halted campaigning in the wake of the attack.
With reporting from AFP and AP.