by Adam PLOWRIGHT / Katell PRIGENT / Joshua MELVIN
Agence France Presse
PARIS, France (AFP) — A recognized terror suspect shot lifeless a French policeman and wounded two others Thursday on Paris’s Champs Elysees in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group days earlier than a presidential election.
Observers had lengthy feared bloodshed forward of Sunday’s vote in France following a string of atrocities since 2015 and the violence is more likely to thrust safety to the entrance of voters’ minds.
The shooter opened hearth with an computerized weapon on a police van on the world-famous boulevard at round 9:00 pm (1900 GMT), prompting vacationers and guests to run for his or her lives.
After killing the officer and injuring his colleagues only a few hundred metres from the Arc de Triomphe, the gunman was shot lifeless in return hearth whereas attempting to flee on foot, police sources instructed AFP.
An announcement from the Islamic State group revealed by its propaganda company Amaq mentioned the attacker was “one of the Islamic State’s fighters.”
The killer, recognized as a 39-year-old French man, was recognized to anti-terror police, sources instructed AFP, and raids happened at his deal with in a suburb to the east of Paris.
He was condemned to 15 years in jail in February 2005 on three counts of tried homicide, together with towards police officers.
The affect on the result of the French election is unclear — Sunday is the ballot’s first spherical — however far-right chief Marine Le Pen, her centrist rival Emmanuel Macron, and scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon cancelled marketing campaign occasions deliberate for Friday.
Up till now, surveys confirmed voters extra involved about unemployment and their spending energy than terrorism or safety, although analysts warned this could change in the occasion of violence.
The taking pictures comes two days after the arrest of two males in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who have been suspected of making ready an attack to disrupt the marketing campaign.
French President Francois Hollande promised “absolute vigilance, particularly with regard to the electoral process” and paid tribute to the police.
Security in marketing campaign
Anti-immigration contender Le Pen earlier welcomed safety shifting to the center of the marketing campaign as she took half in a prime-time interview present alongside 10 different presidential candidates.
“We are suffering the consequences of a laxity that has continued for years,” she mentioned shortly earlier than the taking pictures, promising to take a tough line towards extremists and anybody suspected of being an Islamist.
For weeks, former banker Macron and Le Pen have been out in entrance however opinion polls now present there’s a likelihood that any of 4 main candidates may attain the election’s second-round runoff on May 7.
Conservative candidate Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have closed the hole considerably in the final two weeks.
“The first responsibility of the president is to protect,” Macron mentioned on the interview present. “This threat will be part of our daily lives in the next years.”
Fillon, who penned a pre-election guide known as “Beating Islamic Totalitarianism”, declared that “the fight against terrorism must be the absolute priority of the next president.”
As the primary particulars of the attack filtered by way of, US President Donald Trump mentioned that “it looks like another terrorist attack. What can you say? It just never ends.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel despatched her condolences.
State of emergency
The bustling Champs Elysees lies in the center of Paris and is lined with outlets and eating places. It was instantly blocked by armed officers after the attack and close by metro stations have been closed.
“We had to hide our customers in the basement,” Choukri Chouanine, supervisor of a restaurant close to the positioning of the taking pictures, instructed AFP, saying there was “lots of gunfire.”
A spokesman for the inside ministry paid tribute to the quick reflexes of police on the scene who managed to kill the gunman and forestall additional bloodshed on a busy spring-time night.
A overseas vacationer was barely wounded in her knee by shrapnel in the course of the taking pictures.
France is in a state of emergency and at its highest doable stage of terror alert.
The Charlie Hebdo journal was hit in January 2015, websites round Paris together with the Bataclan live performance corridor have been focused in November the identical yr, and households at a fireworks show in Nice in July 2016.
In between, there have been a sequence of smaller assaults, typically aimed toward safety forces.
Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to protect vacationer hotspots such because the Champs Elysees or different potential targets, together with authorities buildings and non secular websites.
In February, a person armed with a machete in every hand attacked troopers on patrol at Paris’s Louvre Museum. The attacker, a 29-year-old Egyptian, was critically injured.
And in March, a 39-year-old man was killed at Paris’s Orly airport after attacking a soldier.
© Agence France-Presse