Attacker shoots 2 officers in Paris' Champs-Elysees district

Emmanuel Macron

"Immediately a man got out and fired on the police vehicle, mortally wounding a police officer", Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

The attacker opened fire on a police van with an automatic weapon before being killed. One officer was killed and two seriously wounded.

The group identified the attacker as one of its soldiers naming him as Abu Yousif - the Belgian. He was the subject of a "Fiche S" surveillance file and was on the radar of the French domestic security service DGSI, the source said.

The ministry said one police officer was killed. The residence is located in an eastern Paris suburb.

More than 50,000 police and gendarmes are mobilized to protect Sunday's first-round vote in the two-stage election, with an additional 7,000 soldiers also on patrol.

This situation is unfolding only a few blocks away from the Elysée Palace - the official residence of the French president.

Police have swarmed on the iconic boulevard.

Hollande held an emergency meeting with the prime minister Thursday night and planned to convene the defense council Friday morning.

"We shall be of the utmost vigilance, especially in relation to the election", said President Francois Hollande, who is not himself running for re-election.

Security in Paris has been building in recent days, but the presence of 50,000 police officers on the streets weren't enough to prevent the latest assault, which a source tells CNN is being treated as an act of terror.

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Emergency vehicles blocked the wide Champs-Elysees, an avenue lined with boutiques and normally packed with cars and tourists that cuts across central Paris between the Arc de Triomphe and the Tuileries Gardens.

Belgian security officials had warned French counterparts before the attack that El Osri was a "very unsafe individual en route to France" aboard the Thalys high-speed train.

Like the attacks in late 2015 on the Bataclan Theatre and the 10th arrondissement restaurants, it appeared created to strike at the cultural heart of one of Europe's most important cities.

In November, 2015, Paris was rocked by near simultaneous gun-and-bomb attacks on entertainment sites, in which 130 people died and 368 were wounded.

French police tweeted, "Police intervention underway in the area of the #ChampsElysees avoid the sector and follow the instructions of the police forces".

Bystanders raise their arms after a shooting in Paris.

"I knew there were terrorism attacks in France past year, but I thought it was over", she said.

The Paris prosecutor's office said counterterrorism investigators are involved in the probe of Thursday's attack.

"What our attackers want is death, symbolism, to sow panic (and) to disturb a democratic process, which is the presidential election", he said. We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant.

The attacker opened fire on a police van on the avenue before being killed.

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