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Paris Shooting: Gunman Was 'Focus Of Anti-Terror' Probe

21 Avril 2017

French officials, speaking anonymously to the AP news agency, said the suspect had been convicted of attempted murder in 2003 after a shooting incident against police.

The gunman opened fire with an automatic weapon on a police van at around 9pm on Thursday, sending tourists and visitors running for their lives.

Islamic State extremists claim responsibility and say it was in retaliation for French participation in airstrikes on the militant group's positions in Syria and Iraq.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet earlier told radio station France Info that officials found a shotgun and knives in the suspect's auto, and three people from his family were being questioned.

The shooter was killed by pursuing cops as he ran from the scene, still unleashing a hail of bullets at them, French officials said.

While a second man wanted in connection with the attack has handed himself in to a police station in Antwerp, Belgium.

Two men were arrested two days ago in Marseille who police said had been planning an attack ahead of the election.

ISIS claimed the shooting, which came three days before the first round of France's presidential election Sunday in which security is a major concern after a string of bloody jihadist assaults since 2015. Far left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon said campaigning should continue.

As well as the two officers - who doctors now say are out of danger - a female German tourist was also wounded.

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

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She advised Yadav to not sit idle in the jail but to spread the message of sacrificing lives to protect cows. She went on to ask Yadav to inform his inmates in jail to chant " gau mata " or mother cow.

She has vowed a tough line on immigration, blaming it for the violence preying on France.

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon said the fight against "Islamist totalitarianism" should be the priority for France's next president.

Karim Cheurfi, 39, was a Paris resident, according to a representative of the Paris prosecutor's office.

He has called a defence council meeting for 8am on Friday, The Guardian reports. The prime minister said the government has reviewed its already extensive election security measures and says it is "fully mobilized" for Sunday's vote. He added that the intelligence services are working "in the shadows" and elite intervention police forces are also on alert.

"Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country", Cazeneuve said.

The prime minister appealed for national unity and for people "not to succumb to fear".

It recalled two recent attacks on French soldiers providing security at prominent locations around Paris: one at the Louvre museum in February and one at Orly airport last month.

Speaking during a televised debate around the time of Thursday's attack, Fillon said there was "no room for pursuing today or tomorrow an electoral campaign because first of all we have to demonstrate our solidarity with the police officers".

Bloodshed had always been feared ahead of Sunday's first round of voting after a string of jihadist atrocities since 2015, and shooting on the world-renowned boulevard forced security to the top of the agenda in the campaign.

Asked if the assault would impact voting, the centrist Macron said: "No one knows".

Paris Shooting: Gunman Was 'Focus Of Anti-Terror' Probe