Police in Paris are responding to reports of a burning car in the shopping district of Champs-Elysses, Paris. A man has been reported on the ground, held by authorities. According to the AP, “France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation into the ramming of a police vehicle on Paris’ Champs-Elysees avenue.” The National Police tweeted, “Current police operation. Observe the security perimeter and the instructions of the security forces,” and have also warned people to not spread rumors about the attack.
Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet says the driver is “most probably” dead. The car was laden with explosives. The driver of the car had a gun on him, according to Europe 1.
France is currently under a state of emergency with the French government foreign travel website writing, “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in France. Attacks could be indiscriminate.”
The last terror attack attempt in Paris was last week when an assailant armed with a hammer and kitchen knives was shot by police outside Notre-Dame Cathedral, reports The New York Times. In April, a policeman was killed in Champs-Elysses by an ISIS-inspired shooter from Belgium, reports The Guardian.
A witness of today’s incident, Liberation journalist Eric Favereau, reports:
It was about 3:45 p.m. A column of pickup trucks of the gendarmerie comes from the Etoile (at the top of the avenue) and takes the avenue des Champs-Elysées, I am on a scooter. They go a little faster than me and, arriving 300 meters before the roundabout of the Grand-Palais, I see this column at the stop, with a car that seems to block them in front, a bit across. [Police] leave the vehicles. And there, I see an explosion in the passenger compartment of the vehicle at the stop, with a jet of flame coming out. The gendarmes rush into their trucks to take tools and break the windows of the car. A biker helps them. They manage to open the car, which is always on fire. They take out a man and they pull him to the ground while others use fire extinguishers. “
Champs-Elysses is very close to a major police station so there are always police vehicles around. The Avenue des Champs-Elysees is a major avenue that runs between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located.
The world has been on high alert with vehicular terrorist attacks. Just after midnight last night, a white male drove a van into Muslims leaving prayers in North London.
In an ISIS magazine article from November 2016, ISIS suggested to jihadists how to carry out a successful attack as a lone wolf operative. In the article, ISIS said that a lone wolf should use a vehicle to plow into a crowd and to carry a secondary weapon.
Soon after, an ISIS-inspired student carried out vehicular attack on Ohio State University. The perpetrator, Somali-born Abdul Razak Ali Artan, also carried a machete. ISIS later claimed the attacked and named Artan as one of their “soldiers.”
A similar attack claimed by ISIS was carried out on July 14, 2016 at a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. Bouhlel is responsible for murdering up to 84 people by ramming into them with a truck and shooting at them.
A similar ISIS attack took place at a Christmas market attack that killed 12 and injured 48 at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin-Charlottenburg, Germany in late 2016.
Most recently, the United Kingdom has been the brunt of foreign Islamic State attacks, with car rammings and suicide bombings rocking multiple locations this spring.
This is a developing story.
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