Champs Elysees shooter was focus of anti-terror probe

A known terror suspect shot dead a French policeman and wounded two others on Paris's Champs Elysees in an attack claimed by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group days before a presidential election.

The gunman shot dead by French police on Thursday night, after killing a police officer, has been identified as Karim Cheurfi.

The Paris prosecutor Francois Molins confirmed the attacker's identity in a press conference.

The officials said the gunman was detained towards the end of February after speaking threateningly about the police but then released for lack of evidence.

The shooting on the final day of the presidential campaigning in France's pivotal presidential election caused the candidates to suspend last-minute pitches before the Sunday vote. Terrorism has become a major issue in the race amid a rash of attacks in the country in recent years.

In Washington, President Trump said the shooting in Paris "looks like another terrorist attack".

At 21:00 GMT on Thursday night a man pulled his vehicle alongside a bus transporting French police on the heavily-transited Champs-Elysees in Paris, opening fire with an automatic weapon and killing one of the officers.

"Turkey and the Turkish people, who have been subjected to similar attacks many times, understand and share the suffering of the French people", the statement said.

The people of France will go to the polls on Sunday for the first round of presidential voting.

Citing prosecutors, broadcaster BFMTV said the three suspects were family members of the man who shot a male officer as he sat in a police bus on Thursday evening.

Investigators are attempting to establish if he had accomplices or worked alone, Molins said.

Shortly after the attack a witness told French media: "Suddenly everyone got up and started running, we didn't even have the time to understand what was happening".

The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, though no proof of this has yet been found.

"This kind of terrorism is an attack on the entire civilized world, and we resolutely condemn it", Abe said in the message, released by the Foreign Ministry.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet says that police officers killed the attacker.

"Nothing must be allowed to interfere with a democratic moment fundamental to the life of our nation", said Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who campaigns against immigration and Islamic fundamentalism, cancelled a minor campaign stop, but scheduled another.

  • Carolyn Briggs