A look at extremist attacks in France in the past few years

The attacker - identified as Karim Cheurfi - opened fire on a police van parked on the famed boulevard late Thursday, killing one cop and seriously injuring two others before being shot dead.

French police said the attack was probably a "terrorist act" and dramatic video footage captured the moment police shot at the assailant, who later died.

Police said the shooter was a known terror suspect who had been convicted in 2005 of three counts of attempted murder - two of them against police officers.

The dead officer was 30, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said.

Meanwhile, two French officials told The Associated Press the suspect was detained in February for threatening police, but was then freed due to a lack of evidence.

According to French media, the attacker served several years in prison for firing on police officers with a gun in the early 2000s.

"A little after 9 PM a vehicle stopped alongside a police auto which was parked".

The attack unfolded on the Champs-Elysees around 9 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) when a vehicle stopped in front of a police van, according to French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet.

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On the iconic avenue in the heart of Paris, municipal workers in white hygiene suits were out before dawn Friday to wash down the sidewalk where the assault took place - a scene now depressingly familiar after multiple attacks that have killed more than 230 people in France in little over two years.

A terror investigation has been launched and authorities searched a home early on Friday in an eastern suburb of Paris believed to be linked to the shooting.

Isil claimed the shooting, days before French presidential elections, via its Amaq news agency, naming the attacker as Abu Yousif al-Bajiki (the Belgian), but police said the identity had not been confirmed.

US President Donald Trump tweeted that the shooting would "have a big effect" on the election.

An emergency meeting of security, defence and intelligence officials would be held on Friday, he said in a televised statement.

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, stressed their tough law-and-order stances - while centrist front-runner Emmanuel Macron stressed he also was up to the challenge.

"We don't understand why Islamic State has identified the wrong person", said a police source. "What can you say - it never ends", he added. But it looks like another terrorist attack.

USA vice president Mike Pence said the shooting was the "latest reminder that terrorism can strike anywhere, any time" and his country "will not relent in our effort to end terrorism". We'll move quickly to correct the record and we'll only point to the best information we have at the time.

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