Paris, Apr 21: A French policeman was shot dead in central Paris at Champs Elysees boulevard on Thursday night. Two others were left injured n the attack that came days before the French presidential elections which is scheduled to happen on April 23. The attack has reportedly been claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.
The Islamic State group took the responsibility of Thursday’s shooting via its Amaq news agency. The group named the attacker as Abu Yousif al-Belgiki.
The group also claimed responsibility for a car attack in London in March that claimed four lives. However, the group, in this case, gave no name or details.
Condemning the incident, President Francois Hollande said he was convinced the shooting, in which the assailant was himself shot dead by the police, was an act of terrorism.
Meanwhile, the officers continued the search at the home of the dead attacker in eastern Paris. Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet asserted that it cannot be ruled out that there was another person involved in the shooting as the police, at the scene, searched for a potential second assailant.
Brandet also informed that the attack happened around 9 pm. “A vehicle stopped alongside a police car which was parked. A man got out and fired on the police vehicle,” he said.
An eyewitness Chelloug who was walking out of a shop saw a man get out of the car. “I heard six shots. He open fired on the policeman. I thought I was going to die,” she was quoted as saying.
In the aftermath of the attack, French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon cancelled a planned election campaign outing which was scheduled Friday.
Soon after the incident, Arc de Triomphe monument and the top half of the Champs Elysees was packed with police vans, lights flashing and heavily armed police shutting the area down.
Earlier this week, two men were arrested in Marseille who were allegedly planning an attack ahead of the election. A machine gun, two hand guns and three kilos of TATP explosive were among the weapons seized from a flat in the southern city along with jihadist propaganda materials.
During the last two years, France has witnessed a spate of Islamist militant attacks which have left claimed the lives of over 230 people.
In November 2015, Paris was rocked by near simultaneous gun-and-bomb attacks on entertainment sites. This attack had claimed 130 lives and had left 368 others wounded. The attack was carried out by the Islamic State.
In July 2016, a Tunisian man rammed a truck through a crowd in the southern city of Nice killing 86 people.