The Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for a shooting on Champs-Élysées today that claimed the life of one police officer and wounded another.
In a statement citing a “security source,” the ISIS-linked Amaq News Agency said the gunman was “Abu Yusuf,” a Belgian fighting for ISIS.
According to France24, the attack targeted a police car that was waiting at a red light near the Franklin Roosevelt metro station. Police presence has been heavy in the area as France is under a state of emergency until at least July due to past terror attacks.
Two policemen were also wounded in the attack and the terrorist was killed. French President Francois Hollande confirmed that the attack was terrorism.
Police were searching the home of the gunman east of Paris, France24 added. French interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told reporters “an automatic weapon was used against police, a weapon of war.” Shortly after 9 p.m., Brandet said, a car pulled up alongside the police cruiser and “a man immediately got out and opened fire on the police car.”
Police said a second suspect may be at large.
The U.S. Embassy in Paris sent out a message to U.S. citizens advising them “to avoid the area, heed instructions of local authorities, and monitor local media for updates.”
The news of the attack broke as President Trump was in meetings with visiting Italian Prime Minister Paulo Gentiloni at the White House. At a joint press conference afterward, Trump sent “condolences from our country to the people of France.”
“Again it’s happening, it seems. I just saw it as I was walking in. So that’s a terrible thing and that’s a very, very terrible thing that’s going on in the world today. But it looks like another terrorist attack,” Trump said. “And what can you say? It just never ends. We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant, and I’ve been saying it for a long time.”
Gentiloni noted “this is a very delicate, delicate period for them,” as “there’s just three days before the election.”
The attack comes as communist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has been surging in the presidential polls, and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has seen a slight slip in support. Centrist Emmanuel Macron leads the pack, but not by much.
If no candidate takes 50 percent in the first vote, the top two contenders move to a runoff on May 7.
Macron vowed on Twitter after the attack to “protect our borders by strengthening the means of security, intelligence” and “protect outside our borders to combat Islamist terrorism everywhere.”
LePen tweeted “solidarity for our security forces, again being targeted.”
Tweeted Mélenchon: “Thought for the police dead and injured and their families. Terrorist acts never go unpunished, the accomplices never forgotten.”
French police arrested two men in Marseilles on Tuesday on suspicion of planning an “imminent” attack in the country. Authorities said the pair — Mahiedine M., 29, from Croix near Belgium, and Clément B., 23, from Ermont, north of Paris — had been radicalized while serving time in prison.
They allegedly had an Uzi and one homemade batch of the explosive TATP ready to go.