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Paris attack: 50000 troops and police mobilised

More than 50,000 police and soldiers have been “fully mobilised” after the killing of a police officer in Paris – and days before the country’s presidential election. The attacker shot dead by police on the Champs-Elysees on Thursday evening is believed to be Karim Cheurfi, 39. 1 A property being searched in the eastern Paris suburb of Chelles is understood to be his home and three members of his family have been taken into custody. A note praising the Islamic State (IS) group was found near the attacker, a source close to the investigation told the AFP news agency. French officials, speaking anonymously, said the suspect had been convicted of attempted murder in 2003 after a shooting incident against police.

Image: A picture of shooting suspect Karim Cheurfi from social media Image: Police have been searching a house where the attacker is believed to have lived

He was also detained in February for making threats against officers, but released because of lack of evidence. However, authorities are still to officially confirm the attacker’s identity. As the country prepares to vote, France’s prime minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said more than 50,000 police and gendarmes, as well as 7,000 soldiers, had been mobilised to safeguard the election2 and protect polling stations.

“Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country,” said Mr Cazeneuve. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen used the aftermath of the attack to call for the government to immediately expel foreigners being monitored by intelligence services and reinstate France’s borders. Conservative candidate Francois Fillon said the fight against “Islamist totalitarianism” should be the priority for France’s next president.

Image: Armed police were on patrol again on Friday on the Champs-Elysees

“We are at war, there is no alternative, it’s us or them,” said Mr Fillon. In a video posted online, frontrunner for the presidency Emmanuel Macron said “the terrorist’s will is to destabilize the country”.

“In such circumstances, the role of the president of the Republic as the army chief and guardian of our institutions is to protect the French . I am ready,” he said.

Image: The public were ushered away from the scene as police drew their weapons

The attack happened when a silver Audi pulled up next to a police van on the famous Champs-Elysees avenue – usually packed with tourists heading to the Arc de Triomphe. The gunman got out and immediately used an assault rifle to shoot officers guarding an area near the Franklin Roosevelt metro station. He tried to run along the pavement, aiming at other police and hitting two of them. Other officers opened fire, killing the assailant.

As well as the two officers – who doctors now say are out of danger – a female German tourist was also wounded. A pump-action shotgun and knives were found in the gunman’s car.

:: Charlie Hebdo to Champs-Elysees – timeline of France terror attacks3 IS claimed it was responsible for the attack and named Abu Yusuf al Beljiki as the attacker. The pseudonym indicates the attacker was Belgian – something the country’s interior minister, Jan Jambon, has denied, insisting the attacker was French.

  1. Masked police on top of their vehicle on the Champs-Elysees

  2. An armed soldier secures a side road near the Champs-Elysees

  3. Forensics officers search a car on the Champs-Elysees

  4. Police officers block the access to the Champs-Elysees

  5. Police vehicles seen on the Champs-Elysees, near the Arc de Triomphe

  6. People raising their arms as they walk towards police on a side road near the Champs-Elysees

  7. Armed police officers block the access of a street near the Champs-Elysees

  8. An armed police officer on the Champs-Elysees

  9. Police officers searched people in the area after the attack on the Champs-Elysees

  10. Firefighters and rescuers stand by the site of the shooting on the Champs-Elysees

  11. French police vehicles drive in convoy through Paris streets after the shootout

  12. Police vehicles seen near the Eiffel Tower

  13. Police at the scene

  14. Champs-Elysees is locked down in Paris after the attack on police officers

  15. Police secure a side street

  16. Emergency services respond to the shooting

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A witness, who identified himself as Chelloug, described hearing six shots4 during the attack. He said: “I thought they were firecrackers . In fact, he (the gunman) was hidden behind the van and shooting at the police. “I think he hit a policeman . As soon as the policeman opened the door of the van, he fell.” He said he and tourists fled to a shop. “We saw the policeman shoot the gunman who could have killed more of us.”

Image: The car believed to have been used in the attack

Police were seen pointing their weapons at members of public as they evacuated the area. Matthias Fekl, the French interior minister, paid tribute to the dead policeman and praised his colleagues who he said had “prevented a bloodbath”.

US President Donald Trump also tweeted his response to the attack, posting: “Another terrorist attack in Paris .

The people of France will not take much more of this .

Will have a big effect on presidential election!”

References

  1. ^ believed to be Karim Cheurfi, 39. (news.sky.com)
  2. ^ the election (news.sky.com)
  3. ^ :: Charlie Hebdo to Champs-Elysees – timeline of France terror attacks (news.sky.com)
  4. ^ six shots (news.sky.com)

Football club upping security after break-in attempt

A FOOTBALL club is to increase security after a break-in attempt over the Easter weekend.

The ‘mindless’ vandals damaged eight windows in an attempt to get into Haslingden St Mary’s FC club house on Saturday night.

Apart from smashing a clock and picking up a few empty water bottles, they left empty-handed.

Club bosses said they were now planning to brick up the windows and install extra CCTV in a bid to deter future attempts.

Anthony Fitzjohn, secretary of the Shore Street club, said: “It was an attempted break-in . Thankfully they did not get in.

“They came round and tried all eight windows but we have got bars across them.

“Every window has been badly damaged.”

The windows are made of perspex so the attempted thieves smashed round the outside and pushed them open – damaging them beyond repair.

“They managed to put their hands in and took a clock and empty water bottles . The clock had been smashed on the floor,” he said.

“It is mindless really.”

He said the attempt had caused a couple of thousand pounds worth of damage and there were now plans to replace the windows with bricks.

“We will have to increase our security after this .

That is all we can do – keep chipping away.

“We will have to remove the windows and brick them up which is another expense . We just can’t risk it anymore.

“We are very fortunate . We had a narrow escape really . It was all set up for a christening on Sunday and that was able to go ahead as normal thankfully.”

Mr Fitzjohn said the club had been broken into in the past, however there have been no recent incidents.

“We used to have roof lights but we did away with those . It was shocking .

They would come in and drop down 15 to 18ft and just trash the place and take alcohol from the bar.

“We have CCTV but it is inside and on the front so we are looking at getting more cameras.”

He added it was business as usual with functions going ahead and the first team, who are currently top of division one in the West Lancs league, playing a match on Easter Monday.

Two security reviews to look into Westminster terror attack

Two reviews into security at Parliament will take place following the terror attack at Westminster, Speaker John Bercow has told MPs.

An independent review will look into how the perimeter fence surrounding the Parliamentary estate is secured after Khalid Masood, armed with a knife, ran into New Palace Yard and murdered PC Keith Palmer last Wednesday1. Mr Bercow also revealed there will be a second externally-led review into how Parliament responds to major incidents following the attack, in which four people were killed2.

Image: Armed police at the Carriage Gates entrance to the Houses of Parliament

Speaking in the Commons, he said: “As would be normal after such events, we are seeking to make sure that any lessons are learned, through two reviews. “The Lord Speaker and I are commissioning an external independent review of how the perimeter of the Parliamentary Estate – including outbuildings – is secured and protected, to produce a preliminary report by the end of April.

“The two clerks are commissioning an externally-led lessons-learned review of the operation last week of Parliament’s Incident Management Framework, to report by the end of June.”

Mr Bercow offered tributes to the bravery of PC Palmer, who died after trying to stop Masood from entering Parliament during the attack. He said: “Members will also be aware that 2.40pm today marks a week on from the shocking events of last week, and our thoughts will be in particular with the Metropolitan Police as they mourn their colleague PC Keith Palmer.”

Image: Police officers hold flowers on Westminster Bridge

Police officers held a minute’s silence outside New Scotland Yard on Wednesday, a week after the terror attack. Acting Met Police Commissioner Craig Mackey said: “This afternoon is about remembering the victims of last week’s events.

Image: Faith Leaders head up a vigil including members of the public and police officers

“Our thoughts, our prayers, go out to everyone who was affected by the events last week.

“I would urge you, if you get time, to go on to the bridge, talk to Londoners, talk and get a feel for this great city and how it’s come together in responding to these events.”

Image: People hold a banner on Westminster Bridge

Prince William paid tribute to PC Palmer as he laid a wreath in his honour at the National Memorial Arboretum, near Lichfield, Staffordshire. The Duke of Cambridge bowed his head in respect after placing the wreath on a metal bench at the foot of a traditional blue police lamp.

Image: Prince William lays a wreath in memory of PC Keith Palmer at the National Arboretum

A hand-written note read: “For PC Keith Palmer and all those who have served our community so valiantly; your legacy is our way of life . William.”

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge will join families of the victims of the terror attack next Wednesday at Westminster Abbey for a “Service of Hope”.

References

  1. ^ murdered PC Keith Palmer last Wednesday (news.sky.com)
  2. ^ in which four people were killed (news.sky.com)