A police officer was killed and two others wounded in a targeted shooting on the Champs-Elysees, a major street in Paris, Reuters reports.
A gunman was killed by police at the scene, Radio VL reports. Police were taking precautions at the scene, but believed there was only one attacker.
French President Francois Hollande said they believe the attack is terror-related. believe Witnesses reported on Twitter that police swarmed the area. Helicopters could be seen circling above.
The officers were “deliberately targeted” in the shooting, Pierre-Henry Brandet, an Interior Ministry spokesman, told BFM.
The shooting was reported to the anti-terrorist section of the Paris prosecutor’s office, said Jean-Charles Brisard, a French expert on terrorism.
The shooting happened between the Franklin Roosevelt metro station and the Arc de Triumph.
This is a developing story and will be updated. Here is what we know so far:
1. A Shooter Armed With an Automatic Rifle Opened Fire on a Police Car Stopped at a Red Light, the Police Union Says
Three police officers were shot, with one killed and two seriously injured, according to BFM TV. At least one gunman fired at the officers, who returned fire, BFM TV reports.</a
France's National Police union said on Twitter that a gunman fired at a police car stopped at a red light, killing an officer.
The gunman was using an automatic weapon, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.
The man got out his car to fire on the officers, according to CNN.
Pierre-Henry Brandet, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said the gunman “then ran away, managing to shoot and wound two other policemen. Other policemen engaged and shot and killed the attacker.”
2. The Gunman Killed at the Scene Was Known to Authorities & Posted on Telegram About Wanting to Kill Police Officers
Police have not yet released any details about the gunman or the gunmen or a motive for the attack. They have not confirmed the reports that the gunman was identified as ISIS fighter Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki.
BFM TV reports the gunman killed at the scene was previously known to authorities. He had written on Telegram, an instant messaging service, about wanting to kill police officers, the news station reports.
The shooter was flagged as an extremist, police officials told the Associated Press.
The assailant’s name hasn’t been released yet. Authorities declined to provide details about his criminal history or possible affiliations, the AP reports.
“Police intervention underway in the area of the #ChampsElysees avoid the sector and follow the instructions of the police forces,” the police department said on Twitter.
U.S. President Donald Trump said during a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni that the shooting “looks like another terrorist attack,” but it was not clear if he had intelligence about the shooting or was speculating. He also said, “What can you say, it just never ends.”
3. Police Warned People to Stay Away & the Champs-Elysee Was Closed in the Area
The local police department tweeted that people should avoid the area. Witnesses reported seeing dozens of officers at the scene, while helicopters circled above.
The Champs-Elysees was closed in the area about 9:30 p.m. local time after the shooting, CNN reports.
It is a major tourist area, with restaurants, cafes and shops lining the street.
4. Witnesses Described Panic Near the Scene as Several Gunshots Rang Out
Witnesses on Twitter said they heard several gunshots near the scene. One witness said people panicked, overturning tables and ducking for cover.
Julien Courbet, a French journalist, said on Twitter he has never experienced panic like he did as he was in a restaurant near the scene at the time of the shooting. He said people were hiding in the restaurant with the lights off.
Another witness, named Chelloug, told Sky News he heard six shots after a man armed with a Kalashnikov rifle parked his Audi behind a police vehicle.
“I thought they were firecrackers. In fact, he 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,” the witness said.
5. The Shooting Comes Just Days Before France Is Set for the First Round of Its Presidential Election
The shooting comes just days before France is set to vote in the first round of its presidential election. The threat of terrorism has been a key topic during the campaign, with far-right leader Marine Le Pen calling for stricter border controls and a crackdown on foreign extremists, according to the Associated Press. Le Pen is one of the main candidates for the presidency, along with centrist Emmanuel Macron, leftwing Jean-Luc Melenchon and conservative Francois Fillon.
Some of candidates quickly reacted to the shooting on Thursday.
“Emotion and solidarity for our security forces, again being targeted,” Le Pen said in French on Twitter.
“Tribute to the security forces who give their lives to protect ours,” Fillon said on Twitter.
Macron said on Twitter, “Tonight I want to show all my solidarity with our law enforcement. … The first duty, the first mission of the President is to protect.”
Melenchon said on Twitter, “Thoughts for the police” killed in the attack and their families. He said terrorist acts will “never go unpunished,” and accomplices will be caught.
There have been several major terrorist attacks in France in recent years, starting with the Charlie Hebdo magazine attack in January 2015, along with the November 2015 Paris attacks that left 130 dead and the Bastille Day truck ramming in July 2016 in Nice that left 130 dead and 434 injured.
Authorities announced earlier this week that a possible attack plot was thwarted, the Associated Press reported. Two French men with alleged ties to ISIS were arrested in Marseille, authorities said. Explosives were found during the investigation along with a mask, wig and ISIS flag, The Independent reports.
After the arrests, Le Pen said “Islamic fundamentalism” has “expanded exponentially” in the country over the past decade.
“It’s time to put back France in order,” she said, the AP reports. “We cannot fight the terrorism that weighs on our country without controlling our borders.”
Macron said the “terrorist threat remains very high,” but said that terrorism is “a challenge that calls upon us more than anything else to come together, because the terrorists with nothing more than our division.”
Fillon said he is committed to Europe’s open borders.
“Democracy must not get on its knees in front of the threats and intimidations from terrorists,” Fillon said in a written statement. “The campaign must continue until the end.”
And Melenchon suggested the three other candidates were possibly targets of the Marseilles suspects.
“We will never make the gift to criminals to divide in front of them. We are not afraid,” Melenchon said at a rally, the Associated Press reports.
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