Paris cop, gun­man killed in ter­ror at­tack

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE -

PARIS (AP) — A gun­man opened fire on po­lice on Paris’ iconic Champs-El­y­sees boule­vard on Thurs­day night, killing one of­fi­cer and wound­ing three peo­ple be­fore po­lice shot and killed him.

The Is­lamic State (IS) group quickly claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, which hit just three days be­fore a tense pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Se­cu­rity al­ready has been a dom­i­nant theme in the cam­paign, and the vi­o­lence on the sparkling av­enue threat­ened to weigh on vot­ers’ de­ci­sions.

Can­di­dates can­celed or resched­uled fi­nal cam­paign events ahead of Sun­day’s first round vote.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors searched a home early yes­ter­day in an eastern sub­urb of Paris be­lieved linked to the at­tack.

A po­lice doc­u­ment ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press iden­ti­fies the ad­dress searched in the town of Chelles as the fam­ily home of Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old with a crim­i­nal record.

Po­lice tape sur­rounded the quiet, mid­dle-class neigh­bor­hood in Chelles, and wor­ried neigh­bors ex­pressed sur­prise at the searches.

Archive re­ports by French news­pa­per Le Parisien said that Cheurfi was con­victed of at­tack­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer in 2001.

Au­thor­i­ties are try­ing to de­ter­mine whether “one or more peo­ple” might have helped the at­tacker, In­te­rior Min­istry spokesman Pierre-Henry Bran­det told re­porters at the scene of the shoot­ing.

One of­fi­cer was killed and two po­lice of­fi­cers were se­ri­ously wounded when the at­tacker emerged from a car and used an au­to­matic weapon to shoot at of­fi­cers out­side a Marks & Spencer’s de­part- ment store at the cen­ter of the Champs-El­y­sees, an­titer­ror­ism pros­e­cu­tor Fran­cois Molins said.

A fe­male for­eign tourist also was wounded, Molins said.

The IS group’s claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity just a few hours after the at­tack came un­usu­ally swiftly for the ex­trem­ist group, which has been los­ing ter­ri­tory in Iraq and Syria.

In a state­ment from its Amaq news agency, the group gave a pseu­do­nym for the shooter, Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, in­di­cat­ing he was Bel­gian or had lived in Bel­gium.

Bel­gian au­thor­i­ties said they had no in­for­ma­tion about the sus­pect. IS de­scribed the shoot­ings as an at­tack “in the heart of Paris.”

The at­tacker had been flagged as an ex­trem­ist, ac­cord­ing to two po­lice of­fi­cials, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they weren’t au­tho­rized to pub­licly dis­cuss the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Bran­det said of­fi­cers were “de­lib­er­ately” tar­geted, as has hap­pened re­peat­edly to French se­cu­rity forces in re­cent years, in­clud­ing pre­ced­ing the 2012 elec­tion.

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

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

The gun­fire sent scores of tourists flee­ing into side streets.”They were run­ning, run­ning,” said 55-year-old Badi Ftaïti, who lives in the area. “Some were cry­ing. There were tens, maybe even hun­dreds of them.”

REUTERS

Po­lice­men stand on top of their ve­hi­cle on the Champ­sEl­y­sees boule­vard after a po­lice­man was killed in a shoot­ing in­ci­dent in Paris on Thurs­day.

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