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Anti-terror probe opened in Paris car attack

20 Juin 2017

A vehicle exploded and burst into flames after it crashed into a police van on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, police and investigators said, adding that the driver was armed.

Police searched on Monday night the residence the suspect shared with his family in Plessis-Pate, a town about 40 minutes' drive from central Paris. The vehicle burst into flames on impact.

Police sources told AFP that they found a Kalashnikov assault rifle, two handguns, ammunition as well as a gas bottle in the vehicle. Authorities say the driver is now dead. Collomb says the situation is now under control but has been referred to the French government's anti-terrorism authorities.

The Paris prosecutor's counter-terrorism unit said it had opened an investigation into the incident, which occurred only a short walk away from the Elysees presidential palace and the USA embassy.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb says the attack shows the country still faces a significant threat. He said he will present a bill Wednesday at a Cabinet meeting to extend the state of emergency from July 15, its current expiration date, until November 1.

The vehicle burst into flames upon impact, but police say no bystanders or police were injured. But both agreed as the mother said, "unfortunately we now are used to this".

In April, an attacker opened fire on a police van on the Champs Elysees, killing one officer and gravely wounding two others.

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The tragedy has provoked a big response from nearby communities that have donated food and shelter to the victim. This relies on dental records, fingerprints and DNA when possible and also features like tattoos or scars.

Mr Collomb said a new security law was "needed" because of the attacks, and that the legislation would "maintain a high security level" beyond the state of emergency.

If confirmed as a deliberate attack, this would be the fifth time this year that police forces have been targeted around the French capital.

They spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal details of the incident, the second this year on the city's most famous avenue, which is popular with tourists.

"The show must go on", the daughter said in English.

The suspect is wearing a white shirt and dark shorts and prone on his stomach on the avenue. The man had been flagged by investigators earlier for extremism, French police said.

France's anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation into the ramming of a police vehicle on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue.

Anti-terror probe opened in Paris car attack