Bystanders are frisked by police officers near the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France, after a fatal shooting in which a police officer was killed along with an attacker, Thursday. Photo: AP
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Policeman killed, two wounded in Paris shooting; IS claims responsibility

21 Comments
by julien pretot and emmanuel jarry

A French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in central Paris on Thursday night in an attack carried out days before presidential elections and quickly claimed by the Islamic State militant group.

President Francois Hollande said he was convinced the"cowardly killing" on the Champs Elysees boulevard, in which the assailant was himself shot dead by police, was an act of terrorism.

The wide avenue that leads away from the Arc de Triomphe had been crowded with Parisians and tourists enjoying a spring evening, but police quickly cleared the area, which remained empty well into the night of all but heavily armed security forces and police vehicles.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said the man had been identified, but investigators were still assessing if he had accomplices.

A police arrest warrant issued earlier on Thursday, which was seen by Reuters after the attack, warned of a dangerous individual who had come into France by train from Belgium on Thursday. It was unclear if that man was the attacker or linked to the shooting.

Officers searched the home of the dead attacker in a town east of Paris, a police source said.

"The sense of duty of our policemen tonight averted a massacre ... they prevented a bloodbath on the Champs Elysees," Interior Minister Matthias Fekl told reporters.

"A little after 9 PM 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," Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

France has lived under a state of emergency since 2015 and has suffered a spate of Islamist militant attacks mostly perpetrated by young men who grew up in France and Belgium and that have killed more than 230 people in the past two years.

Witness Chelloug, a kitchen assistant, told Reuters he was walking out of a shop and saw a man get out of a car and open fire with a rifle on a policeman."The policeman fell down. I heard six shots, I was afraid. I have a two year-old girl and I thought I was going to die... He shot straight at the police officer."

The Islamic State group, which is being driven out of its areas of territorial control in Iraq and Syria by Western-backed coalitions and has hundreds of French-speaking fighters, claimed responsibility for Thursday's shooting via its Amaq news agency, naming the attacker as Abu Yousif al-Belgiki.

The claim came quickly and the naming of the assailant suggested a degree of direct contact with Islamic State. The group also claimed responsibility for a car attack in London last month killing four, but gave no name or details.

Police sources said the man was known to intelligence services. French television networks reported that he was a 39-year-old French national known for previous violent crimes.

Police authorities called on the public to avoid the area.

The Arc de Triomphe monument and the top half of the Champs Elysees were packed with police vans, lights flashing and heavily armed police shutting the area down after what was described by one journalist as a major exchange of fire.

The incident came as French voters prepared go to the polls on Sunday in the most tightly-contested presidential election in decades.

"We shall be of the utmost vigilance, especially in relation to the election," said President Hollande, who is not himself running for re-election.

Earlier this week, two men were arrested in Marseille who police said had been planning an attack ahead of the election.

A machine gun, two hand guns and three kilos of TATP explosive were among the weapons found at a flat in the southern city along with Islamic State propaganda materials, according to Molins.

That incident brought issues of security and immigration back to the forefront of the campaign, with the anti-immigration National Front leader Marine Le Pen repeating her call for Europe's partly open borders to be closed.

On Thursday, speaking after a television appearance, she said she was "deeply angry" as well as sad for the police victims "because not everything is done ... to protect our compatriots. They need more than our compassion."

Candidates in the election said they had been warned about the Marseille attackers. Francois Fillon, who is the conservative candidate, said he would cancel the campaign events he had been planning for Friday.

He also called for campaigning generally to be suspended, although from midnight on Friday the law says it has to stop anyway. Far left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon said campaigning should continue. In November, 2015, Paris was rocked by near simultaneous gun-and-bomb attacks on entertainment sites, in which 130 people died and 368 were wounded. Islamic State claimed responsibility. Two of the 10 known perpetrators were Belgian citizens and three others were French.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

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21 Comments
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Stay strong France. Don't give in to the dark-side and the fear-baiters (Le Pen, Trump ~ evil peddlers all).
The US (at least in our house) is with you in spirit! You can prevail, you've done it before when evil struck.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

This may push a few undecideds into the Le Pen column but thankfully a Le Pen presidency looks unlikely. The idea of this idiot leading France with jihadii silly season kicking off in earnest next month is terrifying. This woman would have religious nutters lining up to cause mayhem.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Paris lost over a billion Euros in tourism revenue in 2016 over terror fears. It's a massive loss for a city where tens of thousands make their living in the tourism sector. They need to take some extreme measures to ensure that evil doesn't keep striking.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Condolences to the Police officers family. This cold, calculated, callous slaying, alongside the malicious wounding of two other officers, is a cowardly act.

The timing of this atrocity, to coincide with the French Presidential Elections will undoubtedly test the people of France resolve. Especially so, the candidates, and their campaign teams temptation to extract political capital, and leverage to swing public opinion. This killing is a blatant attempt to turn communities against each other at a crucial time in the democratic process of election. Most of all to incite vengeful retribution against law abiding members of the Muslim community.

I hope the French political establishment and the people of France can rise about this wicked cynicism and unite in contempt at this brazen act of terrorism

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Let me try again and not be offensive or vulgar...

I think the backlash against the Muslim community is over-stated. Perhaps, there are genuine problems within that community that need to be addressed. Why, for example, are young men driven to this ideology? Why, for example, do other members of the community not reach out and help them?

230 innocent people have already been sacrificed on the altar of multi-culturalism and cultural relativity. How many more are necessary?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Agree with others, Le Pen is very unlikely to become the next french president. Don't think her immigration policies are the main reason for that though but rather her frexit approach. The french are/feel more european than the brits and most don't want to go back to the french franc.

Reckon a pro EU yet anti immigration, more secular (she is too religious/not secular enough for a country like france) le pen would have been the favorite. This latest attack won't hurt her score though, that's for sure. She already has the youth vote and this may help her with older voters who are still behind fillion.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Unfortunately,France is at war with an invasive ideology which uses machine guns and bombs to kill and incite violence.ISIL is attempting to push the non-muslim and muslim population of France into a state of civil war. With the French elections coming up that likelihood may well become a reality.....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

230 innocent people have already been sacrificed on the altar of multi-culturalism and cultural relativity. How many more are necessary?

If I'm not mistaken, multi-culturalism was the approach taken by the UK, not France. People seem to have misunderstood what this idea is. Multi-culturalism is the British rather than the French failed idea.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

America was built on multi-culturalism

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Hi Attilathehungry, A conundrum multiculturalism presents.

A fundamental dilemma that Ethnic, religious communities, with conflicting cultural, values, are require to integrate within a society that values freedom of expression, gender equally, sexual toleration and Gay/Lesbian marriage.

This is the why, one is totally incompatible with the other, and fanatical Islamic fundamentalists are adapt at indoctrination to incite hate through division and intolerance. The question who ultimately must shoulder responsibility politically, for propagating the policies that various ethnic and religious groups can share the same space and at the same time tolerate cultural diversity?

The families of 230 victims would like that question answered.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Zichi

However, Islam is not built on an acceptance of other ideologies,nationalities nor religions.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@jimizo, you're probably right if you're only talking about multiculturalism through integration of other cultures into society. The french model was more about assimilation I.e 'they'll eventually become like us' but I still see that as a form of multiculturalism.

In any case, I think the fren h have realised, the hard way at times, that one cukture/society couldnt fully assimilate other cultures and that they had to meet others somewhere in the middle. So yes imo france is a very multicultural nation although a different multicultural than say the uk, us, oz, canada etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The 3 abrahamic religions are Judaism, Christianity & Islam.

Same foundation.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Jimizo

"If I'm not mistaken, multi-culturalism was the approach taken by the UK, not France"

Early reports say the killer is from Belgium, as with several other of attackers in Paris Islamist incidents. Belgium has long been an enthusiastic supporter of multiculturalism.

America was built on multi-culturalism

Nope. America calls itself a "melting pot," ie, the original cultures are subsumed into a whole. That's more akin to assimilation.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@JeffLee

"Nope. America calls itself a "melting pot," ie, the original cultures are subsumed into a whole. That's more akin to assimilation."

There are people in America who only speak Spanish. One day soon, Spanish will be the national language and in some areas Spanish is more spoken than English. The melting pot didn't include all peoples and all cultures so many live within their own cultures, like the Jews for instance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The only societies that have ever existed without multiculturalism were isolated hill settlements that died out before outsiders made contact with them. Face it: people move. People make babies in places they move to. It's a fact of life. Accept it. Move on.

All sympathies to the loved ones of this police officer who are dealing with their irreplaceable loss, naturally. But from a macro-societal point of view, do you really think a single police shooting is really the sort of thing to throw away the spirit of the French enlightenment over? No doubt a cop killing is a bigger deal in France than in the US because of the lack of a gun culture there, but still, it surely happens, and when it happens as a result of a drug bust gone wrong or a car chase do French people typically respond with any more outrage than a Gallic shrug? Why then is a single casualty by a brown dude named Abdul* so terribly shocking?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

No doubt a cop killing is a bigger deal in France than in the US because of the lack of a gun culture there, but still, it surely happens, and when it happens as a result of a drug bust gone wrong or a car chase do French people typically respond with any more outrage than a Gallic shrug? Why then is a single casualty by a brown dude named Abdul* so terribly shocking?

Hate to state the obvious here but you need to look at the bigger picture. Drug dealers aren't generally ploughing into crowds with trucks, blowing up people at airports or mowing down scores of innocents with military grade weapons.

I think if this was an isolated incident of a murderous religious crackpot, you'd get the kind of reaction you seem to think it deserves.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The french are/feel more european than the brits and most don't want to go back to the french franc

> So they feel more Greek?

Enough peddling of drivel. It's more about mooching off the Germany economy than culture!!

> The socialist experiment that is the eu failed. It's about time to kick it to the curb.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Jimizo Today  06:12 pm JST

I think if this was an isolated incident of a murderous religious crackpot, you'd get the kind of reaction you seem to think it deserves.

An "isolated" "religious" "crackpot". Interesting way of putting it. Exactly what factor makes this incident not "isolated"? Both Islamophobes and ISIS would like the world to think that the common causative factor is that this attacker and the other terrorists you're no doubt referring to were Muslims, but the billions of non-violent Muslims in the world proves that hypothesis to be false.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Le Pen is the only hope for France now! If she doesn't make it that country will go down in Islamization together with Germany and Sweden.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

However, Islam is not built on an acceptance of other ideologies,nationalities nor religions.

This. Multi-culturalism only works as well as the cultural mentality of those integrating into it's host society. When one's "cultural"/ religious ideology/doctrine doesn't accept other ideologies, nationalities, and religions you end up with what we have now.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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