Published: Mon, April 24, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Policeman killed on Champs-Elysee was deployed to Bataclan during massacre


The Champs-Elysees gunman who shot and killed a Paris police officer just days before France's presidential election had a note with him defending the Islamic State group, France's anti-terrorism prosecutor said Friday.

On Saturday, police arrested a man brandishing a knife at Paris's Gare du Nord station, briefly causing panic as some passengers rushed out of the way.

ISIS swiftly claimed the attack was carried out by one of its "fighters". He is crediting the fast response of the other officers on scene in killing the shooter, with preventing what he calls "carnage".

He was arrested in February on suspicion of plotting to kill officers but was released because of lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, the two police officers injured in the attack are said to be out of danger. Under French election rules, Friday was due to be the final day of campaigning before Sunday's first round of voting.

Molins said investigators were trying to determine whether the attacker had accomplices.

People look at a bullet hole in a window near to the Marks and Spencer on the Champs Elysees in Paris following the shooting of a police officer on April 21, 2017. Its president, Mickael Bucheron, told AP he would have celebrated his 38th birthday at the beginning of May.

Cheurfi, a French national who lived with his mother in the city, was known to police having been convicted for previous gun attacks on law enforcement officers going back 16 years.

He spoke to People.com when the venue reopened a year later with a concert by Sting.

He added: "This concert's to celebrate life. To say "No" to terrorists", the media outlet quoted Jugele as saying.

Police shot and killed Cheurfi after he opened fire on a police van. Cheurfi's identity was confirmed from his fingerprints.

A key question was how the attack might affect French voters, since campaigning is banned starting Friday at midnight.

The French president will be chosen in a runoff of the top two candidates on May 7.

By Friday morning, Fillon, Macron and Le Pen had all canceled campaign events.

The attack, which was claimed by Islamic State, overshadowed the last day of campaigning for Sunday's presidential election first round. Le Pen said on Friday that France should immediately reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services, according to Reuters. "Make sure you that, as you said, you work hard all the way through".

The offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine were hit in January 2015, ISIS gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people at sites around Paris in November that year, and a Tunisian man rammed a truck through crowds in Nice in July 2016, killing 86 people. "This fight for freedom and for the security of the French people must be the priority of the next five-year term".

Asked if the assault would impact voting, the centrist Macron said "no one knows" and appealed for cool heads.

Molins said the attacker had a long criminal record.

If Le Pen or Melenchon win a spot in the runoff, it will be seen as a victory for the populist wave reflected by the votes for Donald Trump and Brexit - the British departure from the EU.

On the pro-EU side, Macron says he has "Europe at heart", wants to bolster the eurozone and is the only candidate who favours CETA, the free-trade agreement between the European Union and Canada that will provisionally come into force in a few weeks. But Belgium's interior minister said the pseudonym did not belong to the attacker.

"It's definitely risky, but I have faith in the result even if an extreme candidate qualifies for the second round", said Beatrice Schopflin, who was queuing to vote in Paris.

On Thursday night, the attacker stepped out from a vehicle with an automatic rifle and opened fire on a police van outside a Marks & Spencer store on the Champs Élysées in central Paris.

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