Deadly shooting shuts down the Champs Elysees in Paris0:26
One policeman was killed and two others wounded in Paris on Thursday night. The shooting, in which the assailant was also killed, took place on the Champs-Elysees shopping boulevard just days ahead of France's presidential election. Alva French reports.
THE Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on police in the heart of Paris, in a statement by the jihadists’ propaganda agency Amaq.
“The perpetrator of the attack in Champs Elysee in central Paris is Abu Yussef the Belgian and he is one of the Islamic State’s fighters,” it said.
One police officer is dead and another two seriously injured following the attack on the iconic Champs Elysees boulevard, just three days before France heads to the polls to elect a new president.
Police officers guarding a metro station in the centre of the Champs Elysees shopping district were gunned down about 9pm Thursday Paris time (5am Friday AEST), when the area was busy with people visiting restaurants and bars.
French interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told reporters the shooting started when a car stopped alongside a stationary police vehicle.
“A man immediately got out and opened fire on the police car, fatally wounding a police officer ... He also wounded a second one, it would seem very seriously,” he said.
The gunman was also killed, but it is possible at least one accomplice may have escaped.
Also read: Paris gunman's terror links investigated
One officer was pronounced dead at the scene, while the two injured officers are being treated in hospital with at least one fighting for life. The car was abandoned at the scene.
The attacker was being investigated over his possible intention to kill police officers, sources close to the investigation said.
Police raided the man’s home in a Paris suburb after the violence on the bustling, world-famous boulevard.
The incident comes despite France being on red alert for a possible terrorist attack in the final countdown to Sunday’s first-round presidential election.
French conservative politician Francois Fillon, a candidate in France’s presidential election, says campaigning should be suspended following the shooting in Paris.
Also read: Election looms during Paris attack probe
Fillon and fellow candidate, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen, cancelled campaign events scheduled for Friday, on what will be the last day of campaigning before the first round of voting in the presidential election.
Le Pen has been campaigning against mass Muslim migration and has been repeatedly warning of a terror attack.
Security in France is high preceding the vote after police said they arrested two men on Tuesday in what they described as a thwarted terror attack.
Speaking after the attack, French President Francois Hollande said security forces would be vigilant during the forthcoming presidential election.
An emergency meeting of security, defence and intelligence top officials would be held on Friday, he said in a televised statement on Thursday night.
Hollande, who is not running again for office, said: “We shall be of the utmost vigilance, especially in relation to the election.”
Police sources earlier told French media it appeared the incident was terror-related.
There were earlier reports it may have been an armed robbery gone wrong, but police have launched a terrorism inquiry and all indications are that it is terror-related.
US President Donald Trump condemned the shooting, saying: “It just never ends. We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant.”
A month ago, a would-be terrorist shot and wounded a police officer at a roadblock before being shot dead after attacking three soldiers at Orly Airport in suburban Paris.
The attack occurred on the most famous avenue in Paris, not far from another landmark, the Arc de Triomphe.
Like the attacks in late 2015 on the Bataclan Theatre and the 10th arrondissement restaurants, it appeared designed to strike at the cultural heart of one of Europe’s most important cities.
Paris police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert told The Associated Press the gunman targeted police who were guarding the area near the Franklin Roosevelt metro station.
Mr Brandet said a robbery may have been carried out at the same time as the attack but it is not clear if the two are linked.
French TV channel BFM broadcast footage of the Arc de Triomphe monument and top half of the Champs Elysees packed with police vans, lights flashing and heavily armed police shutting the area down after what was described by one journalist as a major exchange of fire near a Marks and Spencers store.
A witness identified only as Ines told French television station BFM she heard gunshots and saw a man’s body on the ground before police quickly evacuated the area.
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, which have killed more than 230 people.