UPDATES: Police officer killed, another injured in Champs-Elysees shooting in Paris

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At least one police officer has been killed and another one injured in a shooting incident in central Paris, Reuters report, citing police sources. The suspected attacker was also killed, reports say.

The shooting took place on the central boulevard of Champs Elysees, local media say, citing law enforcement.

A large number of police officers have been deployed to the scene, French media report. 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. However, there is no official confirmation of that so far.

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.

RT’s updates:

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.

Police are currently conducting raids in the area, the prosecutor’s office said, adding that they seek to establish whether the shooter had any accomplices.

Meanwhile, the French Interior Ministry confirmed that the life of the police officer, who was heavily injured during the attack, is no longer in danger.

“The identity of the attacker is known and has been checked. I will not give it because investigations with raids are ongoing. The investigators want to be sure whether he had or did not have accomplices“, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters.

The French Interior Ministry earlier 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.

A woman, reportedly a foreign citizen, has suffered minor injuries as result of the attack, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins told BMF TV.

The police are searching the home of a suspected shooter in Chelles, a commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris some 20 km from its center, Le Parisien reported.

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.

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 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.

The French Interior Ministry dismissed earlier media reports about the death of the second police officer and confirmed that only one police officer was killed in the incident and the other two were seriously injured.

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.

In the meantime, eyewitnesses told the local media that the assailant got out of a car and opened fire on the officers with a Kalashnikov assault rifle. This information was then partially confirmed by the Interior Minsitry spokesman, Pierre-Henry Brandet, who told journalists that “an automatic weapon was used against police, a weapon of war.”

He also revealed some new details about the attack. “A man immediately got out and opened fire on the police car, fatally wounding a police officer … He also wounded a second one, it would seem very seriously,” he said, as cited by Reuters.

An unconfirmed Reuters report citing police sources earlier said 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.

French presidential candidates have 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.” Fillon has also called for Friday’s planned campaign events to be cancelled following the shooting

In the meantime, Marine le Pen from the National Front expressed her “solidarity with the [French] security forces, who are being targeted again.” Le Pen was preparing to postpone her presidential campaign events on Friday, according to AFP.

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.

The incident comes just two days after two men were detained in the French southern city of Marseille on suspicion of planning a “violent and imminent attack” ahead of the presidential elections. Guns and explosives were reportedly found during the search in their apartment. One of the suspects has recently converted to Islam, according to Soir media outlet.

Comment:

Update: The French Interior Ministry has confirmed the attacker was targeting a police bus on the boulevard and was already known to law enforcement. The police have raided his apartment; a bomb disposal unit has been called to inspect his car.

Reuters, citing police sources, reports that shots were fired at another location near the Champs-Elysees boulevard. No further details were provided.

The second officer wounded in the attack has passed away as a result of his injuries.

Update (April 21): More updates from RT:

07:17 GMT: A Belgian federal prosecutor said there are no indications that the attacker was Belgian, adding that his identity remains unclear, Reuters reported.

07:43 GMT: Three family members of the suspected attacker who was shot dead on Thursday evening were detained late Friday night at his home in the Chelles commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France’s 20 Minutes newspaper reported, adding that they were taken into custody.

08:23 GMT: The Champs Elysee attacker was a French citizen, Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon told RTBF channel. “The criminal killed yesterday was a Frenchman” Jambon said. “He was certainly not a Belgian [citizen]. Are there links with Belgians? I can’t comment on this part on the investigation,” he said. According to the minister, the attacker was known to Belgian security services.

10:18 GMT: French presidential hopeful Francois Fillon has called for the creation of an international coalition to fight terrorism. “My foreign policy [if elected president] would be focused on the destruction of Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL], I would propose an initiative to build an international coalition,” Fillon said, speaking at his campaign HQ. According to Fillon, “the more the US, Europe, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the countries of the Gulf are divided, the more the victory against Islamic totalitarianism is delayed. From Washington to Moscow, I would take diplomatic initiative to create conditions for an international coalition against terrorism,” he concluded.

11:52 GMT: Police found notes in the car of the Champ Elysees attacker containing the address of the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI), a French counter-terrorism and counter-espionage agency located in Levallois-Perret commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris. They also found the address of a police station in Lagny commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris, as well as the addresses of three gun shops.

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