The as yet unidentified Muslim who killed a police officer on the Champs-Elysees was known to French security services for radical Islamist activities and had shot and wounded an officer in the past.
National Post One officer was killed and two police officers were seriously wounded when the attacker emerged from a car and used an automatic weapon to shoot at officers outside a Marks & Spencer’s department store at the centre of the Champs-Elysees, anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins said. A female foreign tourist also was wounded.
A gunman opened fire on police on Paris’ iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard Thursday night, killing one officer and wounding three people before police shot and killed him. The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, which hit just three days before a tense presidential election.
Security already has been a dominant theme in the campaign, and the violence on the sparkling avenue threatened to weigh on voters’ decisions. Candidates cancelled or rescheduled final campaign events ahead of Sunday’s first round vote.
Investigators searched a home early Friday in an eastern suburb of Paris believed linked to the attack. 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 criminal record.
Police tape surrounded the quiet, middle-class neighbourhood in Chelles, and worried neighbours expressed surprise at the searches. Archive reports by French newspaper Le Parisien say that Cheurfi was convicted of attacking a police officer in 2001.
The Islamic State group’s claim of responsibility just a few hours after the attack came unusually swiftly for the extremist group.
In a statement from its Amaq news agency, the group gave a pseudonym for the shooter, Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, indicating he was Belgian or had lived in Belgium. Belgian authorities said they had no information about the suspect. IS described the shootings as an attack “in the heart of Paris.”
The attacker had been flagged as an extremist (DUH!) , according to two police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.
Brandet said officers were “deliberately” targeted, as has happened repeatedly to French security forces in recent years, including in the run-up to the 2012 election.