Three police officers were shot in an apparent Islamic State terrorist attack on the iconic Champs-Elysees, at least one fatally, according to French media.
The gunman was promptly killed by police counterfire, according to the French interior ministry. In just a couple of hours, the Islamic State’s news agency claimed credit for the attack and named the gunman as Abu Yousef al-Belgiki.
The 9 p.m. local time attack targeted a police bus guarding the area near the Franklin Roosevelt subway station at the center of the world-famous boulevard and one of the city’s most-iconic venues.
French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told reporters, according to a computer-assisted translation by The Washington Times, that the assailant got out of a car and killed a policeman with an automatic “weapon of war.”
The assailant “then started running on the sidewalk while targeting other police officers. They were wounded at that time, then others fired back and shot him,” Mr. Brandet said.
French police union spokesman Philippe Capon told reporters that the officers “were in static surveillance, in a stationary vehicle. They were targeted.”
Speaking before the Islamic State claimed the attack, Mr. Brandet declined to identify the dead suspect “so as not to jeopardize the investigation.” He declined either to say the attacker had help or to rule out the possibility, but he did say that the active police operation was over.
French prosecutors have turned the case over to the anti-terrorist section of the judicial police and the Directorate General of Internal Security (DGSI).
In a televised speech to the nation , French President Francois Hollande said he had no doubt the attack was terrorism, reiterating “our great determination to do everything possible to fight terrorists here and wherever we are engaged.”
According to the Islamic State’s Amaq news agency, Abu Yousef al-Belgiki, whose last name indicates he was living in neighboring Belgium, was “a soldier of the Caliphate.” Reuters had earlier reported that an arrest warrant had been issued in the Paris shooting for a suspect who arrived from Belgium by train.
Jenan Moussa, a reporter with the Arabic Al-Aan TV, noted that the claim of responsibility and the naming were unusually swift for ISIS, suggesting that ISIS had advance operational knowledge of the attack and wasn’t just attempting to claim credit for what the group had indirectly inspired.
“If so, expect video,” she tweeted.
The police union claimed that a second shot officer had died, but Mr. Brandet declined to confirm that death, saying that two policemen had been “seriously injured.”
The boulevard was sealed off and nearby Paris Metro stations closed. Paris police told people to avoid the area.
France, and Paris especially, has experienced numerous Islamist terrorist attacks in recent years including on the Bataclan concert hall, the Stade de France, and the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine.
In his speech, Mr. Hollande paid “homage” to the slain officer and sent a message that “goes beyond the police and gendarmes and is addressed to the fellow citizens. They are and will be protected, and the nation has confidence, solidarity and support towards the security forces.”
The issues of security and immigration have riled French politics for years, but Mr. Hollande insisted that France “will be absolutely vigilant during the electoral process.”
Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillon, the leading candidates to succeed Mr. Hollande, both canceled their planned Friday campaign events, and Mr. Hollande also called of a planned internal visit in favor of a meeting of the national security council.
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