Terrorist attack in Paris ahead of French election
April 21st, 2017 at 2:52 pm
Terrorist attack in Paris ahead of French election

International desk – Security forces have killed a gunman after he shot down a policeman in the French capital Paris, officials said.

The gunman who shot dead a policeman Thursday has been identified from papers left in his car, but French officials are yet to release his name.

Local media say the 39-year-old lived in the city’s suburbs, and had been seen as a potential Islamist radical.

French police are also hunting for a man who has been identified by Belgian security services, an interior ministry spokesman says, according to BBC.

The gunman was killed on the Champs-Elysees. He had also wounded two police officers.

Paris terrorism

Champs-Elysees in Paris

President François Hollande is to chair a security cabinet meeting, as France readies for Sunday’s presidential poll.

Hollande said he was convinced the attack was “terrorist-related”, adding that the security forces had the full support of the nation and a national tribute would be paid to the fallen policeman.

The so-called Islamic State (IS) said one of its “fighters” had carried out the attack.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said a car pulled up alongside a police bus just before 9pm and a man got out, opening fire on the bus with an automatic weapon.

After killing an officer, the man attempted to run away while shooting at other officers, two of whom he injured, the spokesman added. He was then shot dead by security forces.

The whole of the Champs-Elysees was evacuated.

Because of its worldwide renown and its large number of visitors, the avenue has long been seen as a potential target.

Overnight, a property in the eastern Parisian suburb of Chelles was searched by investigators, who want to know who else – if anyone – may have known about the gunman’s plans.

Paris prosecutor François Molins said shortly after the shootings that “the attacker’s identity is known and has been verified”.

“I won’t reveal it, because investigations and raids are already under way, in particular to establish whether there is any evidence or not of complicity (in this attack),” he said.

According to French media, the attacker served several years in prison for firing on police officers with a gun in the early 2000s.

More recently the intelligence services identified him as a potential Islamist radical.

Meanwhile, IS identified the attacker as Abu-Yusuf al-Baljiki, in a statement carried by its Amaq news outlet.

US President Donald Trump said people had to be strong and vigilant.

“Our condolences from our country to the people of France,” he said. “It looks like another terrorist attack and… what can you say? It just never ends.”

In the UK, a Downing Street spokesman said: “The UK strongly condemns the appalling terrorist attack in Paris. The Prime Minister (Theresa May) has tonight passed on her condolences to President Hollande.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to remain “strong and determined” alongside France, according to BBC.