Paris gun­man kills of­fi­cer, wounds two others

AT­TACKER FLAGGED AS EX­TREM­IST, AU­THOR­I­TIES SAY

Montreal Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - AN­GELA CHARL­TON AND SYLVIE CORBET in Paris

An at­tacker with an au­to­matic weapon opened fire on po­lice on Paris’ iconic Champs-El­y­sees Thurs­day night, killing one of­fi­cer and se­ri­ously wound­ing two others be­fore po­lice shot and killed him.

Paris po­lice spokes­woman Jo­hanna Primev­ert told The Associated Press that the at­tacker tar­geted of­fi­cers guard­ing the area near the Franklin Roo­sevelt sub­way sta­tion at the cen­tre of the shop­ping av­enue pop­u­lar with tourists. She said he ap­peared to be act­ing alone.

Po­lice and sol­diers sealed off the area, or­der­ing tourists back into their ho­tels and block­ing peo­ple from ap­proach­ing the scene.

The Paris prose­cu­tor’s of­fice said coun­tert­er­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tors are in­volved in the probe.

Two po­lice of­fi­cials, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss the on­go­ing investigation, said the at­tacker had been flagged as an ex­trem­ist. They had no other details about him.

The at­tack came three days be­fore the first round of bal­lot­ing in France’s tense pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Se­cu­rity is high pre­ced­ing the vote af­ter po­lice said they ar­rested two men Tues­day in what they de­scribed as a thwarted ter­ror at­tack.

In Thurs­day’s at­tack, French In­te­rior Min­istry spokesman Pierre-Henry Bran­det said on BFM tele­vi­sion that a man came out of a car and opened fire on a po­lice ve­hi­cle. He said of­fi­cers were “de­lib­er­ately” tar­geted.

Speak­ing in Wash­ing­ton dur­ing a news con­fer­ence with Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Paolo Gen­tiloni, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said the shoot­ing in Paris “looks like an­other ter­ror­ist at­tack” and sent con­do­lences to France.

Emer­gency ve­hi­cles blocked the wide av­enue lined with shops that cuts across cen­tral Paris be­tween the Arc de Tri­om­phe and the Tui­leries Gar­dens, nor­mally packed with cars and tourists. Sub­way sta­tions were closed off.

The gun­fire sent scores of tourists flee­ing into side streets.

“They were run­ning, run­ning,” said 55-year-old Badi Ftaiti, who lives in the area. “Some were cry­ing. There were tens, maybe even hundreds of them.”

Se­cu­rity forces are more wide­spread in Paris since deadly Is­lamic ex­trem­ist at­tacks in re­cent years, and France re­mains un­der a state of emer­gency.

French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande sched­uled an emer­gency meet­ing Thurs­day night.

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

A wit­ness iden­ti­fied only as Ines told French tele­vi­sion sta­tion BFM that she heard a shoot­ing and saw a man’s body on the ground be­fore po­lice quickly evac­u­ated the area where she works in a shop.

A French tele­vi­sion sta­tion host­ing a tele­vised event with the 11 can­di­dates run­ning for pres­i­dent briefly in­ter­rupted its broad­cast to re­port the shoot­ings.

None of the can­di­dates im­me­di­ately com­mented.

THIBAULT CA­MUS / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A po­lice of­fi­cer in Paris stands guard af­ter a gun­man opened fire on fel­low of­fi­cers with an au­to­matic weapon on the Champs-El­y­sees, an area pop­u­lar with tourists, on Thurs­day, killing one of­fi­cer and in­jur­ing sev­eral others.

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