Paris attack could influence undecided voters in presidential election
Paris attack could influence undecided voters in presidential election
PHILIPPE DESMAZES AFP Getty Images
21 Abril, 2017, 19:17
A known terror suspect gunned down a police officer and wounded two others Thursday on Paris'sChamps Elysees in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group days before France's presidential election.
None of the candidates immediately commented.
Three candidates - Le Pen, Center-right candidate Francois Fillon and centrist independent, Emmanuel Macron - announced they were suspending their campaigns. A police source also said there had been two assailants, and a witness told Reuters that one man got out of a vehicle at the scene and began shooting with a machine gun.
Belgian security officials had warned French counterparts before the attack that El Osri was a "very unsafe individual en route to France" aboard the Thalys high-speed train.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen welcomed security moving to the heart of the campaign on Thursday as she took part in a prime-time interview show alongside the 10 other presidential candidates.
"The whole of Europe is targeted because it represents the values and ideals of peace", he said.
France has lived under a state of emergency since 2015 and has suffered a spate of Islamist militant attacks mostly perpetrated by young men who grew up in France and Belgium and that have killed more than 230 people in the past two years. In November, 2015, Paris was rocked by near simultaneous gun-and-bomb attacks on entertainment sites, in which 130 people died and 368 were wounded.
"Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country", Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said, appealing for national unity and for people "not to succumb to fear".
It was unclear whether the attack would tip the balance of the vote in favour of Le Pen, who has vowed to take a tough line on "Islamic terrorism".
The warning was circulated more widely among French security services in the hour following the Champs Elysees attack.
A source close to the investigation said the attacker had a long criminal record.
"Not everything has been done to protect our citizens".
"If he was indeed he was a Fiche S.it's going to bring out some cries from they public and some politicians as well, about why, if he was under surveillance, and if the police knew about this person, why he could possibly have pulled this off tonight with a semiautomatic weapon while he was free", CNN'sParis bureau chief Jim Bitterman said. Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said it was too early to say what the motive of the attack was, but that it was clear the police officers had been deliberately targeted. "Other policemen engaged and shot and killed the attacker", he added.
"I just want to go home", she said.
On its media channel, Amaq, ISIS claimed that the attack was carried out by "Abu Yousuf al-Baljiki (the Belgian) and he is one of the Islamic State's fighters".
The Champs Elysees street was closed off shortly after the shooting, while a helicopter started patrolling the area.
Investigators searched a home early Friday in an eastern suburb of Paris believed linked to the attack.
He vowed that, if elected, he would within weeks of taking power create a task force to coordinate French intelligence efforts against the Islamic State group.
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