N.Y. mayor backs plan to in­crease smoke prices

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - WORLD NEWS -

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

Paris po­lice spokes­woman Jo­hanna Primev­ert said 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.

French In­te­rior Min­istry spokesman Pierre-Henry Bran­det said on BFM TV that a man came out of a car and opened fire on a po­lice ve­hi­cle. He said of­fi­cers were “de­lib­er­ately” tar­geted.

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. 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 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 TV 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. New York Mayor Bill de Bla­sio is push­ing for the na­tion’s big­gest city to also be the coun­try’s prici­est spot to buy a pack of smokes. De Bla­sio is back­ing an ef­fort to raise the price of a pack of cig­a­rettes from $10.50 to $13, which he says would be the high­est in the U.S. The Demo­crat an­nounced his sup­port Wed­nes­day for a se­ries of leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als de­signed to dras­ti­cally cut to­bacco use in the city by the year 2020. De Bla­sio says his goal is to re­duce the num­ber of smok­ers by 160,000. An es­ti­mated 900,000 New York City res­i­dents cur­rently smoke. “What we’re here today talk­ing about is sav­ing lives,” said Dr. Mary T. Bas­sett, the city’s health com­mis­sioner, who ap­peared with the mayor at of­fices of the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion. “We want to make it eas­ier to quit and harder to smoke.” The pro­pos­als are set for hear­ings later this month. The city coun­cil also will con­sider leg­is­la­tion to grad­u­ally re­duce by half the num­ber of li­cences is­sued to re­tail­ers to sell to­bacco prod­ucts. Philadel­phia and San Fran­cisco have sim­i­lar li­cens­ing re­stric­tions.

FRANCK FIFE/GETTY IMAGES

Po­lice of­fi­cers stop two men near the site of a shoot­ing at the Champs El­y­sees in Paris on Thurs­day, af­ter a po­lice of­fi­cer was killed and two others wounded by a gun­man.

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