2 Policemen lose their lives in Paris terror attacks
A gunman opened fire on French police Thursday on Paris’ best-known boulevard Champs-Elysee, killing one officer and wounding two others before being fatally shot himself in an incident that raised the specter of renewed terrorism just three days before voters go to the polls to elect a new president.
The Islamic State, through its affiliated Amaq news agency, quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, which sent panicked pedestrians fleeing into side streets and prompted police to seal off the renowned Champs-Elysee, close metro stations and order tourists back into their hotels. The terrorist organization said the attack was carried out by a Belgian national it identified only as Abu Yusuf al-Baljiki, a pseudonym.
There was no immediate confirmation that the Islamic State was behind the shooting. French officials declined to attach a motive to the attack, although they said police were deliberately targeted and that they were opening a terrorism investigation.
A European security official told The Washington Post that the dead attacker was known to French intelligence, having previously come to authorities’ attention for radical Islamist links. Two officials said the gunman used an AK-47 assault rifle in the attack.
Investigators searched a home early Friday in an eastern suburb of Paris believed linked to the attack. A police document obtained by The Associated Press identifies the address searched in the town of Chelles as the family home of Karim Cheurfi, a 39-year-old with a criminal record.
Police tape surrounded the quiet, middle-class neighborhood in Chelles, and worried neighbors expressed surprise at the searches. Archive reports by French newspaper Le Parisien say that Cheurfi was convicted of attacking a police officer in 2001.
Authorities are trying to determine whether “one or more people” might have helped the attacker, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told reporters at the scene of the shooting.
One officer was killed and two police officers were seriously wounded when the attacker emerged from a car and used an automatic weapon to shoot at officers outside a Marks & Spencer’s department store at the center of the Champs-Elysees, anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins said.