One Officer Killed, Two Wounded In Shooting On Paris' Champs Elysees

Paris attack

Police forces take positions on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France, after a fatal shooting in which a police officer was killed along with an attacker on Thursday, April 20, 2017.

A second police officer was shot and injured and the assailant was killed in the incident today. It is said to be the sixth terror strike on the French capital in three years.

"The perpetrator of the attack in Champs Elysee in central Paris is Abu Yussef the Belgian and he is one of the Islamic State's fighters", it said.

Hollande, who said he was convinced the shooting was a "terrorist act", cancelled a trip to Bretagne and will chair a security cabinet meeting Friday.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria claimed responsibility for the attack, and the actual identity of the attacker has been verified, according to the Associated Press. The ISIS statement said the attacker was a Belgian national and cited "security sources".

CNN could not independently confirm that claim.

The attacker was being investigated over his possible intention to kill police officers, sources close to the investigation said.

The killer, identified as a 39-year-old French man, was known to anti-terror police, sources told AFP, and raids took place at his address in a suburb to the east of Paris.

French President Francois Hollande had already said that the authorities suspect the attack was "of a terrorist nature", according to a French 24 translation of his news conference Thursday night.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Eleanor Beardsley on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, thank you very much.

A French police union had announced a second officer had died, but the interior ministry later said this was not the case. Archive reports by French newspaper Le Parisien say that Cheurfi was convicted of attacking a police officer in 2001. "Other policemen engaged and shot and killed the attacker", Brandet said. One of the officers died right away. Also wounded was a female tourist.

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The wide avenue that leads away from the Arc de Triomphe had been crowded with Parisians and tourists enjoying a spring evening, but police quickly cleared the area, which remained empty well into the night of all but heavily armed security forces and police vehicles. "And this is a very delicate period for them, just three days before the election", the Italian prime minister said.

France has been in a state of emergency since 2015 in the wake of numerous terrorist attacks that have killed over 200 people.

The shooting occurred during a prime time television debate between all 11 official candidates, just three days before the first stage of the country's general election.

Observers had long feared bloodshed ahead of Sunday's vote in France following a string of atrocities since 2015 and the violence is likely to thrust security to the front of voters' minds.

The shooting comes two days after the arrest of two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the campaign.

Witnesses said the pair had targeted a police vehicle parked at a red light using Kalashnikovs. What can you say.

Paris resident Daoud Kal, 29, said he was walking in the area near a metro station when he heard four to five shots.

The CNN Paris bureau is on this street and staffers reported hearing a dozen shots.

The shooter opened fire with an automatic weapon on a police van on the world-famous boulevard at around 9:00 pm (1900 GMT), prompting tourists and visitors to run for their lives.

Officers could be seen forcibly removing innocent citizens from the area as they attempted to get them to safety.

US President Donald Trump condemned the shooting, saying: "It just never ends". And what can you say?

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