Paris attack: Terror probe as police officer shot dead by gunman

A gunman attacks police on the city's famous Champs-Elysees, prompting raids at several properties across the capital

A police officer has been killed and two others seriously injured after a gunman opened fire in one of the most popular areas of Paris.

The attacker got out of a car that pulled up next to a stationary police van on the Champs-Elysees and immediately started shooting at officers.

A woman tourist was also wounded in Thursday night's attack.

He then tried to run along the pavement, aiming at other officers and hitting two "very seriously", a French interior ministry spokesman said.

Other officers opened fire, killing the assailant.

 

An anti-terror investigation is under way and raids were being carried out on properties across the capital.

Islamic State claimed it was responsible, with the group naming the attacker as Abu Yusuf al Beljiki and suggesting he was a Belgian.

Police have issued an arrest warrant for a second suspect who had arrived in the country by train from Belgium.

Security has been tight in the country, coming just days before the first round of France's presidential election on Sunday.

 

The gunman struck on the Champs-Elysees, Paris' most famous avenue and an area usually packed with tourists.

He attacked as the officers were guarding an area near the Franklin Roosevelt metro station.

A witness who identified himself as Chelloug said he heard six shots

He said: "I thought they were firecrackers. In fact, he (the gunman) was hidden behind the van and shooting at the police.

"I think he hit a policeman. As soon as the policeman opened the door of the van, he fell."

He said he and tourists fled to a shop. "We saw the policeman shoot the gunman who could have killed more of us."

Another witness identified only as Ines told French broadcaster BFM TV that she heard a shooting, saw a man's body on the ground and the area was quickly evacuated by police.

Police were on high alert in the hours after the attack and officers were seen pointing their weapons at members of public as they cleared the area.

 

There had been reports one of the injured officers had died in hospital of his wounds but that was later denied by officials.

Matthias Fekl, the French Interior Minister, paid tribute to the dead policeman and praised his colleagues who he said had "prevented a bloodbath".

He said: "Their composure, their perfectly adapted response in the decisive seconds, it all played itself out and prevented a bloodbath that could have been extremely widespread, extremely strong, on the Champs Elysees.

"Once again all our thoughts are with the policeman who was assassinated, cowardly, savagely, in a despicable act, an act that shook up our country."

A helicopter hovered over the scene as authorities searched the home of the gunman in the east of Paris.

An armed soldier secures a side road near the Champs-Elysees

Sky's Mark White said: "All the indications are that it was a terrorist attack."

He added: "Two men were arrested a few days ago with an arsenal of weapons. And that there was a concern that an attack was being planned to coincide with the French election."

Police have searched a home in a suburb east of Paris believed to be linked to the attack.

A document obtained by the Associated Press news agency identifies the address searched in the town of Chelles as the family home of Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old with a police record.

The interior ministry said it has not ruled out the possibility that other people were linked to the attack.

Several candidates in Sunday's presidential election ended their campaigns early as a mark of respect, with the centre-right's Francois Fillon calling on others to do the same.

 

 

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