One police officer killed, two wounded in Paris shooting

French prosecutors have opened a terrorism investigation into the attack

Paris' Champs-Elysees looked more like a combat zone than the shopping mecca it is on Thursday night after a drive-up-and-shoot attack in which a police officer was killed. Islamic State have claimed responsibility. Video: REUTERS

 

One policeman has been killed and two others wounded in a shooting incident in central Paris on Thursday night, police and the interior ministry said.

The police officer who was killed in central Paris was shot while in a car stopped at a red light by attacker driving by, a police union said on Twitter. A witness said that one man got out of a car at the scene and began shooting with a machine gun.

One of the two assailants who fired on police  is reported to have been killed. Police have issued an arrest warrant for a second suspect in the shooting, according to a document obtained by Reuters. The warrant said the man had arrived in France by train from Belgium. French prosecutors have also opened a terrorism investigation into the attack.

Police officers were deliberately targeted in the Paris Champs Elysees avenue shooting, but it is too early to say what the motive was, French interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said on Thursday. Police sources had said earlier that the shooting could have been an attempt at an armed robbery.

“I came out of the Sephora shop and I was walking along the pavement where an Audi 80 was parked. A man got out and opened fire with a kalashnikov on a policeman,” witness Chelloug, a kitchen assistant, told Reuters. “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.”

Police authorities called on the public to avoid the area.

French TV channel BFM broadcast footage of the Arc de Triomphe monument and top half of the Champs Elysees 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 nears a Marks and Spencers store.

The incident came as French voters prepared go to the polls on Sunday in the most tightly-contested presidential election in living memory. France has lived under a state of emergency since 2015 and has suffered a spate of Islamist militant attacks that have killed more than 230 people in the past two years.

Earlier this week, two men were arrested in Marseille whom 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 jihadist propaganda materials according to the Paris prosecutor.

- Reuters