Accessibility links

Police Officer, Shooter Killed In Paris Attack Claimed By Islamic State

  • RFE/RL

One police officer was killed and two were seriously wounded in an attack on April 20 by a gunman on the Champs-Elysees in Paris that was claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.

French President Francois Hollande denounced the "terrorist" incident and vowed "absolute vigilance" in the days leading up to a presidential election on April 23. Several candidates halted their campaign activity and one called for a suspension of the election.

French prosecutors said they were trying to determine whether the gunman, who appeared to be working alone, had accomplices.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the attacker was killed during the incident on the French capital’s famed shopping boulevard, which sent tourists and shoppers scurrying.

The assailant parked his car opposite a police vehicle and opened fire with an automatic firearm, killing one policeman, Brandet said. He then tried to flee on foot, still shooting, but was killed by police.

Authorities said a search was under way at the home of the attacker, who they said was known to security services to be an extremist, in the eastern part of Paris.

The IS-affiliated Amaq news agency within hours claimed responsibility for the attack "in the heart of Paris" and identified the gunman as Abu Yousif, a Belgian.

U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking in Washington during a scheduled press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni shortly after learning of the shooting, said that it "looks like another terrorist attack."

“What can you say? It just never ends," Trump said. "We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant, and I have been saying it for a long time."

Video from the scene on the evening of April 20 showed police vehicles and helicopters converging on the boulevard, which runs from the Tuileries gardens near the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe. Police warned people to avoid the area.

Paris, like most major cities in Europe and elsewhere, has been on high security following a series of terror attacks on the continent.

France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that have killed more than 230 people since 2015.

Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to guard tourist attractions such as the Champs-Elysees, as well as other potential targets including government buildings and religious sites.

The April 20 shooting came the same day as candidates in France's presidential race made their final appeals to voters ahead of the April 23 election.

Opinion polls suggest that centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen are likely to receive the most votes but will fall short of 50 percent, forcing them into a runoff on May 7.

While Macron holds just a slight lead over Le Pen going into the first round, polls indicate he could beat her by a large margin in the runoff.

With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters, and CNN
XS
SM
MD
LG