Ceremony held in honour of police officer killed in Paris terror attack

The authorities had feared further bloodshed during the presidential race - a tight four-way contest between far-right leader Marine Le Pen, centrist Emmanuel Macron, conservative Francois Fillon and Communist-backed firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Meanwhile, investigators have released without charge three people detained over the shooting on Paris' Champs-Elysees, in which a policeman was killed. French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve accused her of trying to politicize the Paris attack.

Ms. Le Pen has moved quickly to present herself as the strongest defender against Islamist radicals in a country scarred by a string of attacks that have claimed 239 lives since 2015.

Le Pen, slightly behind frontrunner Macron in the polls, has already reacted to the attack by saying she will introduce tougher immigration and border control, and she will likely continue to capitalize on it, said Françoise Boucek, lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London.

"She's the strongest on borders, and she's the strongest on what's been going on in France", Trump said in the Oval Office interview.

"With four leading candidates running neck and neck and up to a third of voters still undecided, even a marginal effect in increasing support for a particular candidate could be decisive", he said. "The fight for the French people's freedom and security will be mine".

Security forces investigating the scene of the shooting say they found a note praising the Islamic State - which claimed responsibility for the attack - as well as scraps of paper with the addresses of security sites and police stations and a satchel containing weapons, munitions and the Muslim holy book in his vehicle.

The man's lawyer, Nabil Riffi, told CNN his client was "very shocked" at being linked to the Paris shooting and that he had been working at a gas station in Antwerp at the time it occurred. Also wounded was a female tourist.

He served 14 years in prison for attempted murders, with two against police officers.

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said on Friday morning that any hypothesis is not excluded: "The investigation is underway".

Speaking at a news conference in Paris, Molins said Cheurfi aged 39 had been identified by documents found in the auto used in the attack.

The assailant - Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old French national with a long and violent criminal record.

The shooting came days after two men were arrested in Marseille on suspicion of planning an imminent attack and follows a series of deadly strikes around Europe in the past month, targeting Stockholm, London and the Saint Petersburg metro.

US presidents typically avoid weighing in on specific candidates running in overseas election.

As Paris got back to business, municipal workers in white hygiene suits were out before dawn to wash down the pavement where the assault took place - a scene now depressingly familiar after multiple attacks that have killed more than 230 people in France over two years.

The couple were to spend one more night in Paris before flying to Scotland, and Mr Heuser said he didn't think the incident would put them off their travel plan.

President Hollande said the country's security forces were committed to protecting the election process.

  • Leroy Wright