At least one police officer, gunman dead in Paris attack

In this image made from video police attend the scene after an incident on the Champs Elysees in Paris Thursday

France's presidential candidates have expressed solidarity with police forces following the shooting of three officers in Paris, leaving one dead and two gravely wounded, as the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

BFMTV also reported that another police officer was seriously injured and an unidentified man was hit by the "cross-fire" in the the Champs-Elysees area.

The attacker opened fire on a police van with an automatic weapon before being killed. "Authorities are telling people to avoid the area after a shooting".

Paris police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert told The Associated Press that the attacker targeted officers guarding the area near the Franklin Roosevelt subway station at the center of the sparkling shopping boulevard popular with tourists.

Islamist militancy is a major issue in the polls after recent mass attacks claimed by so-called Islamic State, with 238 people killed in jihadist attacks since 2015, according to data from AFP news agency.

The incident comes days before the French election, which is to take place on Sunday. Authorities said a man jumped out of auto and shot at a traffic police vehicle.

Brandit said it is too early to know if the gunman had an accomplice.

President François Hollande said he was convinced the incident was a terrorist attack.

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The Champs-Elysees is a main road lined with restaurants, cafes, exclusive designer boutiques and tourist shops.

A auto stopped at 102 Champs-Elysees in front of a police van, ministry spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet said. "It never ends", the President said.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from the Champs Elysees that the avenue "has been completely cordoned off".

The attacker, who was not identified, was killed by officers returning fire after he aimed at police and fired multiple shots before 9:30 p.m. local time, The Guardian reported. The Tour de France ends at this location.

The shooting occurred in the middle of a televised campaign event, when each of the 11 current candidates was given 15 minutes to sell voters on their respective platforms.

If no candidate claims a majority in the first round - which is likely - there will be a run-off election between the top two candidates on May 7.

Former French President Nicola Sarkozy's tweeted: "To our law enforcement: support, strength, courage".

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