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Police officer killed in Paris attack

PARIS/WASHINGTON, APR 21 (AGENCIES)
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Published on 21 Apr. 2017 11:47 PM IST
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An attacker with an automatic weapon opened fire on police on Paris’ iconic Champs-Elysees, killing one officer and seriously wounding two others before police shot and killed him. The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack.
Paris police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert told The Associated Press that the attacker yesterday targeted officers guarding the area near the Franklin Roosevelt subway station at the centre of the sparkling shopping boulevard popular with tourists. She said he appeared to be acting alone.
Police and soldiers sealed off the area, ordering tourists back into hotels and blocking people from approaching the scene. The attack came three days before the first round of balloting in France’s tense presidential election. Security has been especially high since Tuesday, when police said they thwarted a terror attack by arresting two men.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said counterterrorism investigators are involved in the probe of yesterday’s attack. Two police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to publicly discuss the investigation, said the attacker had been flagged as an extremist. They had no other details about him.  The claim of responsibility several hours after the attack came unusually swiftly for the IS group, which has been losing territory in Iraq and Syria.
In a statement from its Amaq news agency, the group gave a pseudonym for the shooter, Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, indicating he was Belgian. Soon after the Arabic language statement, the group sent one out in French, describing it as an attack “in the heart of Paris.”
Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said on BFM television that a man came out of a car and opened fire on a police vehicle. He said officers were “deliberately” targeted.
Speaking in Washington during a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, US President Donald Trump said the shooting “looks like another terrorist attack” and sent condolences to France.
Emergency vehicles blocked the wide avenue lined with shops that cuts across central Paris between the Arc de Triomphe and the Tuileries Gardens, normally packed with cars and tourists. Subway stations were closed off.
Paris attack to have ‘big effect’ on poll: Trump
US President Donald Trump on Friday said a deadly attack in Paris claimed by the Islamic State group “will have a big effect” on France’s upcoming presidential vote.
“Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!” he said, breaking a silence over Sunday’s vote in a tweet.
Trump tweeted hours after a gunman shot dead a policeman and wounded two others on the world-famous Champs Elysees boulevard.
The attack rocked France’s presidential race Friday with just days to go before one of the closest races in recent memory. Bloodshed had long been feared ahead of Sunday’s first round of voting after a string of jihadist atrocities since 2015, and the shooting on the world-renowned boulevard forced security to the top of the agenda in the campaign.
France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed more than 230 people.
Three of the four presidential frontrunners -- Le Pen, centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative Francois Fillon -- called off campaign events planned for Friday in the wake of the attack.
The vote is being closely watched as a pivotal event amid a global swing to the right, including Trump’s election in November and Britain’s decision to exit the European Union last summer, a move the US president has applauded.
Macron, a 39-year-old moderate, is presenting himself as a guarantor of the EU, promising reform and appealing to pro-Europe sentiment among the French electorate.
Le Pen, widely seen as taking the hardest line on security, has called for France to “immediately” take back control of its own borders from the European Union and deport all foreigners on a terror watchlist.
 


 
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