Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Belgium: ISIS naming of Belgian attacker was fake

Belgium: ISIS naming of Belgian attacker was fake

French police are hunting a man identified by Belgian security services in connection with an attack on police officers in Paris Thursday, a French interior ministry spokesman said.

The attack unfolded on the famed Champs-Elysees around 9 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) when a auto stopped in front of a police van, according to French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet.

The attacker, whom IS claimed as one of its own, then ran away shooting at the officers who followed him, wounding two more officers before he was killed.

Speaking in Indonesia Friday, US Vice President Mike Pence said the attack was just the latest reminder "that terrorism can strike anywhere at any time".

French President François Hollande said authorities were convinced the Champs-Elysees shooting was a terror attack and expressed "great sadness" over the police officer's death.

"We are suffering the consequences of a laxity that has continued for years", she said shortly before the shooting, promising to take a hard line against extremists and anyone suspected of being an Islamist.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen also canceled an event and used the attack to highlight her hardline positions on Islamist extremism and immigration.

On Friday, French authorities said a man sought by Belgium police, who was suspected of having planned to travel to France on Thursday, had handed himself in at a police station in the Belgian city of Antwerp.

Investigators searched a home early Friday in an eastern suburb of Paris believed linked to the attack and police detained for questioning three of the gunman's family members - routine in such cases.

However, the Belgian federal prosecutor "rules out any link" between the man questioned and the attack on the Champs Elysees, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office told AFP.

The polls for the first round of voting open in just two days' time, with a third of voters in France still undecided who to vote for. "Other policemen engaged and shot and killed the attacker", he added.

Security has been high in France leading up to the first round of hotly contested presidential elections Sunday.

Sky's Mark White said: All the indications are that it was a terrorist attack.

France's interior ministry said the gunman was killed after opening fire on the officers at around 9:00 pm (1900 GMT) on the boulevard. Cazeneuve, the Socialist prime minister, accused the National Front leader of seeking to make political hay from the assault.

The claim of responsibility several hours after the attack came unusually swiftly for the IS group, which has been losing territory in Iraq and Syria.

Speaking in Washington during a news conference with Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni, US president Donald Trump said the shooting "looks like another terrorist attack" and sent condolences to France.

"We shall be of the utmost vigilance, especially in relation to the election", he said. A foreign tourist was slightly wounded in her knee by shrapnel during the shooting.

As well as the two officers - who doctors now say are out of danger - a woman tourist was also wounded.

(AP Photo/Thibault Camus) Forensic experts collect evidences from the vehicle belonging to an attacker who killed a police officer on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France, Friday, April 21, 2017.

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