A policeman was shot dead while two other police officers were seriously wounded by a Kalashnikov-wielding (AK-47) gunman on the Champs Elysees in central Paris – just three days before the French presidential election. ISIS has since claimed the attack, but the French authorities say they don’t have a connection of the shooter to ISIS yet.
The gunman, identified as 39-year-old Karim C – who was jailed for 20 years for trying to kill officers in 2001 was said to have parked his Audi , walked up to police in a van an opened fire after police stopped at a red light on the world famous avenue, Champs Elysees.
As soon as he shot at the policemen, the gunmen made no attempt to run and hide. French police said the attack was probably a ‘terrorist act’ and dramatic video footage captured the moment police shot at the assailant, who later died.
The fatal incident unfolded as presidential candidates, including National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, debated on a TV show nearby before Sunday’s election. Both Fillon and National Front leader Marine Le Pen have cancelled scheduled events tomorrow following the attack. All candidates involved in the race to become the next French head of state have expressed their horror at the attack.
Police have now launched a desperate manhunt for a second suspect after heavily armed officers flooded the area in the heart of the French capital.
Officers have been searching the home of the alleged shooter – who was known to security services and had been flagged as an ‘extremist’ – in east Paris.
The gunman was previously jailed for 20 years for previously wanting to kill police’ in 2001 but is believed to have been released early in 2016
Karim C, who used the alias ‘Abu Yousuf the Belgian’ had reportedly made several threats to kill police using the social media app Telegram, an instant messaging service.
Karim was born in France and lived in Chelles, a commuter town close to Paris.
The latest attack in the heart of Paris so close to an election could send voters flocking to far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Sunday. The National Front leader Thursday evening said the terror threat facing France stemmed from ‘laxity’, and within minutes of the attack tweeted her solidarity with security forces.
A poll earlier this week found that more than half of French police officers plan to cast their vote for her at the election this weekend.