Paris attack driver 'had firearms license' despite being known to police

The information that has emerged so far in this latest incident could fit a recent pattern, said Jean-Charles Brisard, a French intelligence expert and director of the Paris-based Center for the Analysis of Terrorism.

The local mayor Sylvain Tanguy said the family was "very discreet and didn't go out much".

Sources close to the probe said the man, named as Adam the French press. had been on France's security watchlist since 2015 over ties to "the radical Islamist movement".

Police said that the driver of the vehicle is the only causality in what they described as an "attempted attack". The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an anti-terror investigation into Monday's incident.

"I couldn't understand, but I find it really odd that a vehicle would pass (police) vans and all of a sudden spit fire, " said Pfister.

Police engage with a suspect outside an alight vehicle.

Police warned the public to stay away from the Champs-Elysees, a popular tourist attraction.

Since the large-scale Paris attacks in November 2015 and last year's Nice truck attack, France has seen a string of smaller assaults targeting security forces.

The incident came just two months after a policeman was shot and killed on the avenue, three days before the first round of France's presidential election.

The latest attack came two days before the French government is to unveil a new anti-terrorism law, created to allow the state of emergency to be lifted.

Questions arose today over how a known radical Islamist who rammed a vehicle into a police van on Paris's Champs-Elysees was able to hold a gun licence. He called the incident an "attempted attack".

"Once again, French police were targeted with this attempted terror attack on the Champs-Elysées", Collomb said, while adding that the attacker's motives weren't immediately clear.

A driver - said to have deliberately rammed his auto into a police van - ending up most likely dead according to French authorities.

They identified the man as a 31-year-old from the Paris suburb of Argenteuil who had an "S" file, meaning he was flagged for links to extremism.

The suspect is wearing a white shirt and dark shorts and prone on his stomach on the avenue.

The reason for the operation remains unclear. Two subway station in the area were closed.

  • Leroy Wright