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Paris on High Alert After One Police Officer Killed on Champs-Elysees

Variety logo Variety 4/20/2017 Pat Saperstein
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UPDATED: Just three days before a contentious presidential election, Paris is on high alert after a gunman targeted police officers with a semi-automatic firearm on the city’s crowded main boulevard, the Champs-Elysees, around 9 p.m. on Thursday night.

An officer in a police car was killed and two others were shot by the gunman, who was killed by officers after he tried to flee on foot. The area was on lockdown as hundreds of officers and emergency personnel responded to the incident near the Franklin D. Roosevelt metro station.

A few hours later, ISIS released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack and naming the gunman as Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki. The 39 year-old Belgian was known to police, lived near Paris and had been radicalized. He previously attacked French police in 2001 and was sentenced to several years in jail.

President Donald Trump said in a press conference just after the shooting that it “looks like another terrorist attack,” and sent his condolences to France. “What can you say? It just never ends. We have to be strong and we to be vigilant,” he continued.

It was unclear whether there were accomplices to the shooter, who pulled up in a car before the shooting, which took place near the Marks and Spencer department store. Some witness accounts said there was another person in the car.

French right-wing presidential candidate Francois Fillon, who was the target of a foiled terror attack a few days ago, told French broadcaster France 2 that he would be canceling a campaign event in the French Alps on Friday, the final day of the presidential campaign. Candidate Marine Le Pen has also canceled an event and will remain in Paris. The first round of the election will take place on Sunday under heavy security.

France has been under an elevated threat of terrorism since the November, 2015 attacks and the January, 2015 Charlie Hebdo shootings, as well as the July 14, 2016 attack in Nice.

Elsa Keslassy contributed to this report.

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