Paris: An assailant with an automatic weapon started the fire on police on Paris’s Champs-Elysees Thursday night, killing an officer and seriously hurting 3 others before police shot and killed him.
Paris police spokesperson Johanna Primevert stated that the attacker targeted officers safeguarding the zone near the Franklin Roosevelt subway station at the center of the shopping street popular with tourists. She stated attacker appeared to be acting alone.
Police and soldiers closed off the area, ordering tourists to go back into their hotels and blocking people from forthcoming into the scene.
The Paris prosecutor’s office stated counterterrorism detectives are involved in the investigation. Two police officers, speaking on condition of obscurity to discuss the ongoing investigation, stated the attacker had been highlighted as an extremist. They had no other details about attacker.
The attack came 3 days before the 1st round of polling in France’s anxious presidential election. Security is high prior the vote after police stated they arrested 2 men on Tuesday in what they termed as a thwarted terror attack.
In Thursday’s attack, French Interior Ministry spokesperson Pierre-Henry Brandet stated on BFM television that a man came out of a car and started fire on a police vehicle. He stated officers were “purposely” targeted.
Speaking in Washington during a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, US President Donald Trump stated the shooting in Paris “looks like one more terrorist attack” and sent concerns to France.
Emergency vehicles were blocked the wide street lined with shops that cuts across central Paris between the Arcade Triomphe and the Tuileries Gardens, usually packed with cars and tourists. Subway stations were also closed off.
The gunfire sent grooves of tourists fleeing into side streets. “They were running, running,” stated 55-year-old Badi Ftati, who lives in the area. “Some people were crying. There were stressed, perhaps even hundreds of them.”
Police forces are more widespread in Paris since deadly ISIS extremist attacks in recent years, and France residues under a state of emergency.
French President Francois Hollande scheduled an emergency meeting on Thursday night.
The incident evoked 2 recent attacks on soldiers providing security at noticeable locations around Paris, one at the Louvre museum in February and one at Orly airport previous month.
A witness identified only as Ines expressed to French television station BFM that she heard a shooting and saw a man’s body on the ground before police quickly emptied the area where she works in a shop.