A gunman has killed a police officer and seriously wounded two others before being shot dead in an attack on the Champs Elysees shopping district in the French capital, according to Paris police and the interior ministry.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday evening, which took place three days before France’s first round of presidential election. It was not possible for Al Jazeera to independently confirm the claim.
Pierre-Henry Brandet, interior ministry spokesman, said the attack happened near the Franklin Roosevelt subway station, at the centre of the avenue popular with tourists.
“An automatic weapon was used against police, a weapon of war,” Brandet told reporters, adding that the “terrorist threat” in the country remained high.
“A vehicle stopped near a [parked] traffic police vehicle. A man got out straight away and opened fire on the police, fatally injuring one police officer,” Brandet said.
“The man then tried to run away along the pavement and aimed at the police. He injured two of them, apparently seriously, and one policeman shot back and killed the attacker.”
French television networks reported that the chief suspect was a 39-year-old French national known for previous violent crimes. Raids took place at his address in a suburb to the east of Paris.
“The identity of the attacker is known and has been checked. I will not give it because investigations with raids are ongoing,” Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters.
“The investigators want to be sure whether he had or did not have accomplices.”
According to a document obtained by Reuters, police have issued an arrest warrant for a second suspect. The warrant said the man had arrived in France by train from Belgium.
ISIL, also known as ISIS, said in a statement that the attacker was one of its fighters.
The prosecutors’ office said the counter-terrorism office had opened an inquiry, while President Francois Hollande said he was “convinced” that a “terrorism” probe is the correct approach.
The interior ministry confirmed on Twitter that explosives technicians were searching the vehicle used by the gunman.
France has been under a state of emergency since 2015 and has suffered a series of attacks that have killed more than 230 people in the past two years. – Al Jazeera.