French security forces fully mobilised to protect elections after Paris shooting - PM

Donald Trump Karim Cheurfi Paris

Two French officials said the gunman had been detained towards the end of February after speaking threateningly about the police, but he was then released due to a lack of evidence. A police document obtained by The Associated Press identifies the address searched in the town of Chelles as the family home of Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old with a police record.

The Paris prosecutor's office leading the investigation of the Champs-Elysees gun attack says investigators found a pump-action shotgun and knives in the gunman's vehicle.

It was unclear how the election would be impacted by the shooting, which came days after two men were arrested in Marseille on suspicion of plotting an imminent attack.

A source close to the French investigation said the 35-year-old man being questioned in Antwerp, described as "very dangerous", had been sought by Belgian police as part of a separate probe.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said security forces, including elite units, were fully mobilised ahead of Sunday's presidential poll.

It identified the attacker as one of its soldiers naming him as Abu Yousif, the Belgian.

Thursday's deadly attack, the first in France since a priest was killed last July, comes after a series of attacks in Europe in the last month, targeting a Stockholm department store, the British parliament in London and the underground train system in Saint Petersburg.

The famous shopping street in the heart of the city, which is usually teaming with tourists and Parisians, was blocked by armed police and metro stations in the area were closed.

Brandet said the attacker used an automatic weapon and aimed at a parked police van before he was killed by other police officers at the scene. The statement said the attacker is a Belgian national.

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The gunman was killed by security forces on the Champs-Elysees.

Authorities are trying to determine whether "one or more people" might have helped the attacker, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said at the scene of the shooting.

A male suspect got out of a vehicle and directly targeted police, ministry spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet said, adding that the driver was believed to be on the loose.

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.

Speaking in Indonesia Friday, US Vice President Mike Pence said the attack was just the latest reminder "that terrorism can strike anywhere at any time".

Police sources said the man was known to intelligence services.

After the 2015 San Bernardino, California, attack, Trump announced a proposed "complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", a statement that has since haunted his administration as it attempted to institute a ban on immigration from several Muslim-majority countries.

"Wait and see attitude is likely to prevail in the last trading day before the first round of the French elections; with yesterday's events in Paris adding to uncertainty", chipped in analysts at Unicredit.

Leading presidential candidates have urged greater counterterrorism measures in a campaign already under a state of emergency.

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