One dead, two in­jured after at­tack

Is­lamic State claims re­spon­si­bil­ity for shoot­ing in Champs-El­y­sees

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY VICTOR MOR­TON

Three po­lice of­fi­cers were shot Thurs­day in an ap­par­ent Is­lamic State ter­ror­ist at­tack on the iconic Champs-El­y­sees, at least one of them fa­tally.

The gun­man was promptly killed by po­lice coun­ter­fire, ac­cord­ing to the French In­te­rior Min­istry. Within just a cou­ple of hours, the Is­lamic State’s news agency had claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack and iden­ti­fied the shooter as Abu Yousef al-Bel­giki. The As­so­ci­ated Press later iden­ti­fied the sus­pect as Karim Cheurfi.

The 9 p.m. lo­cal time at­tack tar­geted a po­lice bus guard­ing the area near the Franklin Roo­sevelt sub­way sta­tion at the cen­ter of the world-fa­mous boule­vard and one of the city’s most vis­ited venues. The po­lit­i­cally fraught at­tack also came just three days be­fore the first round of bal­lot­ing in the French pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

In­te­rior Min­istry spokesman Pierre Henry Bran­det told re­porters that the as­sailant got out of a car and killed a po­lice­man with an au­to­matic “weapon of war,” ac­cord­ing to a com­puter-as­sisted trans­la­tion by The Washington Times.

The as­sailant “then started run­ning on the side­walk while tar­get­ing other po­lice of­fi­cers. They were wounded at that time, then others fired back and shot him,” Mr. Bran­det said.

French po­lice union spokesman Philippe Capon told re­porters that the of­fi­cers “were in static surveillance, in a sta­tion­ary ve­hi­cle. They were tar­geted.”

Speak­ing be­fore the Is­lamic State claimed the at­tack, Mr. Bran­det de­clined to iden­tify the dead sus­pect “so as not to jeop­ar­dize the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.” He de­clined ei­ther to say the at­tacker had help or rule out the pos­si­bil­ity, but he did say the ac­tive po­lice op­er­a­tion was over.

Po­lice were search­ing the sus­pect’s home early Fri­day morn­ing French time in Chelles, an eastern sub­urb of Paris. AP re­ported that a po­lice doc­u­ment iden­ti­fied the ad­dress as the fam­ily home of Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old with a crim­i­nal record.

French pros­e­cu­tors have turned the case over to the anti-ter­ror­ist sec­tion of the ju­di­cial po­lice and the Direc­torate Gen­eral of In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity (DGSI).

In a tele­vised speech to the na­tion, French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande said he had no doubt the at­tack was ter­ror­ism, re­it­er­at­ing “our great de­ter­mi­na­tion to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to fight ter­ror­ists here and wher­ever we are en­gaged.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Is­lamic State’s Amaq news agency, Abu Yousef al-Bel­giki, whose last name in­di­cates he was liv­ing in neigh­bor­ing Bel­gium, was “a sol­dier of the Caliphate.” Reuters had ear­lier re­ported that an ar­rest war­rant had been is­sued in the Paris shoot­ing for a sus­pect who ar­rived from Bel­gium by train.

Je­nan Moussa, a re­porter with the Ara­bic Al-Aan TV, noted that the claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity and the nam­ing were un­usu­ally swift for ISIS, sug­gest­ing that the group had ad­vance knowl­edge of the at­tack and wasn’t just at­tempt­ing to claim credit for what it had in­di­rectly in­spired. “If so, ex­pect video,” she tweeted. The po­lice union claimed that a sec­ond shot of­fi­cer had died, but Mr. Bran­det de­nied that, say­ing two po­lice­men had been “se­ri­ously in­jured.”

France, and Paris es­pe­cially, has ex­pe­ri­enced numer­ous Is­lamist ter­ror­ist at­tacks in re­cent years: the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall, the Stade de France and the of­fices of Char­lie Hebdo mag­a­zine.

In his speech, Mr. Hol­lande paid “homage” to the slain of­fi­cer and sent a message “to fel­low cit­i­zens” that “they are and will be pro­tected, and the na­tion has con­fi­dence, sol­i­dar­ity and support to­wards the se­cu­rity forces.”

The is­sues of se­cu­rity and im­mi­gra­tion have riled French pol­i­tics for years, but Mr. Hol­lande in­sisted that France “will be ab­so­lutely vig­i­lant dur­ing the elec­toral process.”

Marine Le Pen and Fran­cois Fil­lon, the lead­ing can­di­dates to suc­ceed Mr. Hol­lande, both can­celed their planned Fri­day cam­paign events.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Po­lice seal off the Champs El­y­sees av­enue in Paris after a fa­tal shoot­ing in which a po­lice of­fi­cer was killed along with an at­tacker on Thurs­day night. French me­dia are re­port­ing that two po­lice of­fi­cers were shot on the famed shop­ping boule­vard.

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