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Trump predicts Paris attack will have 'big effect' on French election

21 Avril 2017

The gunman opened fire with an automatic weapon on a police van at around 9:00 pm local time on Thursday, sending tourists and visitors running for their lives.

Le Pen, who has campaigned on an anti-European Union, anti-immigration platform, was the only major French candidate who backed Republican Trump in the November 8 US presidential election. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen calls for closure of all Islamist mosques. The Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, accused her of trying to capitalize on the attack.

The victim of Thursday's attack has also been identified in French media as 37-year-old Xavier Jugele.

The gunman was shot dead by other officers. French media reported that he was recently the subject of a counterterrorism investigation. Paris prosecutors named the attacker as Karim Cheurfi. Three members of attacker's family arrested.

Candidates cancelled or rescheduled final campaign events ahead of Sunday's first-round vote.

Inserting himself into the debate, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that the attack "will have a big effect" on the election and that "the people of France will not take much more of this".

Cazeneuve knocked back Le Pen's call on Friday to reinstate border checks and expel foreigners on intelligence watchlists, saying she had voted against the government security efforts previously.

In the Elabe poll, which was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, both Fillon and Melenchon were seen narrowing Macron and Le Pen's lead over them.

"In times such as these we have to demonstrate that France is united", he said. We are at war.

The killing of a policeman by a suspected Islamist militant pushed national security to the top of the French political agenda on Friday, two days before the presidential election, with leading candidates clashing over how to keep citizens safe.

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Macron appealed to voters not to succumb to fear. "It falls to us not to give in to fear and intimidation and manipulation which would play into the hands of the enemy". "The choice that you have to make on Sunday must be a choice for the future".

Macron said he would hire an additional 10,000 police officers in the next five years and that he would create a task force under the French Presidency to fight ISIS.

The Islamic State said the attack was carried out by "Abu Yousuf al-Baljiki" (the Belgian).

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon had earlier told local public broadcaster VRT that the assailant was a French national. National police spokesman Jerome Bonet, also speaking on BFM television, said "there were thousands of people" on the iconic boulevard in Paris when the gunman opened fire and that the rapid response of officers who shot and killed him avoided a possible "carnage".

French President Francois Hollande convened a meeting of the country's defense council Friday. Belgian authorities said they had no information about the suspect. One of the wounded officers was critically injured but is improving, he said.

A foreign tourist was slightly wounded during the shooting.

Security in Paris has been stepped up in recent days, but the presence of 50,000 police officers on the streets was not enough to prevent the latest assault, which a source tells CNN is being treated as an act of terror. Three people from his entourage were being questioned by police. Investigators searched a home early on Friday in an eastern suburb of Paris believed to be linked to the shooting.

Speaking Friday on RTL radio, Macron said: "What our attackers want is death, symbolism, to sow panic (and) to disturb a democratic process, which is the presidential election". Trump said on Twitter. A statement from the IS propaganda agency, Amaq, said the attack was carried out by an "Islamic State fighter".

Municipal workers in white hygiene suits were out before dawn to wash down the sidewalk where the assault took place - a scene now depressingly familiar after multiple attacks that have killed more than 230 people in France over two years. Parliament voted in December to extend the extraordinary provisions to ensure the protection of upcoming presidential and general elections.

Trump predicts Paris attack will have 'big effect' on French election