21 Apr 2017

Islamic State claims responsibility in fatal Paris attack

10:50 am on 21 April 2017

A police officer has been killed and two others wounded in a shooting on Paris' Champs-Elysees.

Police officers patrol on the Champs-Elysees

Police officers patrol on the Champs-Elysees Photo: AFP

French police shot dead the gunman on the famous boulevard in central Paris after he fired at police before trying to escape, reports say.

Le Parisien newspaper, citing its own sources, reported the solo gunman fired at a police patrol with an automatic weapon.

Authorities evacuated the whole of the Champs-Elysees, which stretches from the Arc de Triomph to the Place de la Concorde.

A second suspect who might have been involved in the incident may still be on the loose, authorities said.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, naming Belgian man Abu Yousif as the attacker.

Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said it was too early to say what the motive was, but that it was clear the police had been deliberately targeted.

"A little after 9pm a vehicle stopped alongside a police car which was parked. Immediately a man got out and fired on the police vehicle, mortally wounding a police officer," Brandet said.

The French Prosecutor's office said the counter-terrorism office had opened an investigation.

Police officers patrol on the Champs-Elysees

Police officers patrol on the Champs-Elysees Photo: AFP

The incident comes just days before the first round of France's presidential elections and as the candidates were holding their final debate of the campaign.

France is already under a state of emergency which has been in place since the Paris attacks in November 2015.

Previous attacks this year

Two days ago, two men were arrested on suspicion of planning an "imminent" attack in France, days before the first round of the French presidential election.

A man was also shot dead at a Paris airport in March. Ziyad ben Belgacem had been on a police terrorism watchlist and was shot after he attempted to wrestle a rifle from soldier.

In London in late March, Khalid Masood killed five people in London when he drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbed policeman Keith Palmer outside Parliament.

In February, four people including a 16-year-old girl were also arrested near Montpellier in France after being found with bomb-making materials.

In the same month a man wielding a machete was also shot dead while trying to enter the Louvre museum in Paris.

Police secure the area in front of the Louvre, 3 February 2017

Police patrol in front of the Louvre earlier this year Photo: AFP / Julien Mattia / NurPhoto

-Reuters / BBC