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.
Masked police on top of their vehicle on the Champs-Elysees
An armed soldier secures a side road near the Champs-Elysees
Forensics officers search a car on the Champs-Elysees
Police officers block the access to the Champs-Elysees
Police vehicles seen on the Champs-Elysees, near the Arc de Triomphe
People raising their arms as they walk towards police on a side road near the Champs-Elysees
Armed police officers block the access of a street near the Champs-Elysees
An armed police officer on the Champs-Elysees
Police officers searched people in the area after the attack on the Champs-Elysees
Firefighters and rescuers stand by the site of the shooting on the Champs-Elysees
French police vehicles drive in convoy through Paris streets after the shootout
Police vehicles seen near the Eiffel Tower
Police at the scene
Champs-Elysees is locked down in Paris after the attack on police officers
Police secure a side street
Emergency services respond to the shooting
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!”