A police officer has been killed and two more seriously injured in a shootout with an ISIS gunman on the Champs Elysees boulevard in central Paris, the French Interior Ministry has reported.
The lone gunman opened fire with an automatic weapon at a stationary police vehicle parked on Paris’s iconic boulevard on Thursday evening.
ISIS (Islamic State) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Champs Elysees has been sealed off.
Security forces opened fire and killed the terrorist as he fled the scene.
Russia Today reports:
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) has claimed responsibility for the attack, AFP reported, citing the media agency Amaq, which is affiliated with the terrorist group. It also named Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki as the man behind the attack.
NBC News: ISIS takes credit for the attack in Paris. They say Abu Yousef Al-Baljiki (the Belgian) is an ISIS soldier and was the gunman.
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) April 20, 2017
The shooting took place on the central boulevard of Champs Elysees.
— Ministère Intérieur (@Place_Beauvau) April 20, 2017
The French Interior Ministry confirmed in a Twitter post that the attacker targeted a police bus parked on the boulevard.
The gunman who killed the police officer was already known to law enforcement services, police confirmed without revealing the identity of the attacker.
Addressing the nation following a crisis meeting at the presidential palace, French President Francois Hollande said that all leads indicate that the attack was of a “terrorist nature.”
Hollande assured the public that “we will be absolutely vigilant” during the upcoming presidential election.
He announced that a security council will convene for a meeting at 8am on Friday, adding that “a national tribute” would be paid to the slain police officer.
Intervention de police en cours sur le secteur des #ChampsElysees Evitez le secteur et respectez les consignes des forces de police
— Préfecture de police (@prefpolice) April 20, 2017
A large number of law enforcement have been deployed to the scene. A helicopter has been seen flying at a low altitude over central Paris. The local police department asked the people to “avoid the Champs Elysees district” and follow police instructions.
The assault was “very probably” a “terrorist act,” with two attackers apparently involved, Reuters reported, citing police source.
The French counter-terrorism office has opened an investigation into the incident, the Paris Prosecutor’s Office said. In the meantime, Reuters reports that the police raided the apartment of the attacker killed in the shootout, which is located to the east from Paris.
A bomb disposal team has been called in to inspect the vehicle of the assailant, the Interior Ministry said.
— Charles Baudry (@CharlesBaudry) April 20, 2017
The shootout took place around 21:00 (local time) near the Franklin D. Roosevelt metro station in the 8th district of the French capital, the French RTL TV channel reports.
— Ralph (@vanderpauw) April 20, 2017
In the meantime, Reuters reports, citing police sources, that shots were fired at another location near the Champs Elysees boulevard.
The incident comes just days ahead of the first round of the French presidential elections, which is scheduled for April 23.
US President Donald Trump expressed his condolences to the French people over the incident, which he described as a “very, very terrible thing.”
“Our condolences to our country and the people of France… It looks like another terror attack,” the US president said during a joint press conference with the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. “What can you say? It just never ends,” he added.
French presidential candidates also expressed their condolences over the incident.
Francois Fillon, a candidate from the Republicans, paid “homage to the security forces, who give their lives to protect ours.”
Hommage aux forces de l’ordre qui donnent leur vie pour protéger les nôtres. #ChampsElysees
— François Fillon (@FrancoisFillon) April 20, 2017
In the meantime, Marine le Pen from the National Front expressed her “solidarity with the [French] security forces, who are being targeted again.”
Émotion et solidarité pour nos forces de l’ordre, à nouveau prises pour cible. MLP
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) April 20, 2017
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