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Searches underway in attack on Paris police

By Associated Press 1:44 PM April 20, 2017

PARIS (AP) – The Latest on the shootings of two police officers in Paris (all times local):

1:35 a.m.

Two police officials say the chief suspect in the fatal attack on police officers patrolling the Champs-Elysees in Paris was a 39-year-old man from a suburb east of the French capital.

Searches were conducted in at least one suburb east of Paris after Thursday’s attack.

The police officials were not authorized to be publicly named discussing the ongoing investigation.

One police officer was killed and two others seriously injured when a gunman with an automatic weapon opened fire on police. Officers then shot and killed the assailant.

The suspect’s name was not publicly released. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack and gave a pseudonym for the shooter, Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, indicating he was Belgian or had lived in Belgium.

___

12:40 a.m.

France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor says that searches are under way after an attack on police guarding the Champs-Elysees shopping district in Paris.

Prosecutor Francois Molins said that investigators have verified the identity of the gunman in Thursday night’s attack and are trying to determine whether he had accomplices. The identity was not released.

Three police officials say at least one location in the eastern Paris suburbs was being searched early Friday.

One police officer and the attacker were killed in the incident.

___

12:00 a.m.

France’s presidential candidates have expressed their solidarity with police forces following the shootings of three officers in Paris.

The 11 candidates were appearing on a television program ahead of the first round of voting in the two-part election when the attack that left one officer dead happened Thursday night.

Conservative contender Francois Fillon said on France 2 television he was canceling his planned campaign stops on Friday.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen took to Twitter to offer her sympathy for law enforcement officers “once again targeted.”

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron offered his thoughts to the family of the dead officer.

Socialist Benoit Hamon tweeted his “full support” to police against terrorism.

The first round of the presidential race is scheduled on Sunday. The two top contenders will advance to a runoff on May 7.

___

11:45 p.m.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the shooting on Paris’ Champs Elysees that killed a police officer and left two others gravely wounded.

In a statement from its Amaq news agency, the group gave a pseudonym for the shooter indicating he was Belgian.

The attacker opened fire on a police van on the avenue before being killed.

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

And the pseudonym, Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, indicated that the attacker already had ties of some sort to Islamic State extremists.

___

11:25 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says he is convinced the circumstances surrounding the attack on Paris police officers points to a terrorist act.

Hollande said after one officer was killed and two others seriously wounded on the grand Champs-Elysees boulevard Thursday night he is “convinced” the investigation indicates terrorism.

He did not elaborate.

Hollande says has convened a National Defense and Security Council to meet on Friday morning.

The council consists of top security, police and military officials and several members of government.

___

11:10 p.m.

A French government spokesman says the assailant who opened fire on a Paris police van was armed with an automatic firearm akin to a “war weapon.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said no tourists or pedestrians were injured during the Thursday night attack that left one officer dead and two seriously wounded.

Police say the attacker was shot dead by an officer or officers.

Brandet refused to give any specific detail about the suspect’s possible criminal history or affiliations.

He says the assailant’s identity has not been formally confirmed .

Brandet says while witnesses have described only one gunman, the possibility of accomplices can’t be ruled out.

___

10:55 p.m.

Two police officials say the assailant who shot a police officer to death and wounded two others on Paris’ Champs Elysees had been flagged as an extremist.

The officials had no other details about the attacker. He was shot to death after opening fire on a police van.

They spoke on condition of anonymity to share information about the ongoing investigation.

 

___

10:40 p.m.

French prosecutors have opened a terrorism investigation into the attack on police officers on Paris’ famed Champs-Elysees boulevard.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said counterterrorism investigators are involved in the probe into the Thursday attack that left a police officer and the attacker dead.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet says that police officers killed the attacker. He said one police officer was killed and two others were seriously injured and hospitalized.

Paris police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert says unidentified gunman appeared to be alone when he allegedly opened fire on a police vehicle.

French President Francois Hollande has scheduled an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve following the shootings.

The shooting happened as the country is under a state of emergency from a series of extremist attacks.

___

10:25 p.m.

A Paris resident says the gunfire that erupted on the French capital’s famed Champs-Elysees shopping district sent scores of tourists fleeing into side streets.

Badi Ftaiti, a Tunisian-born mason who has spent three decades in Paris, said the attack that officials say left one police officer dead and another wounded didn’t panic him.

But the 55-year-old says visitors to the French “were running, running….Some were crying. There were tens, maybe even hundreds of them.”

Asked whether the attack was evidence that “Paris isn’t Paris” anymore, as claimed by Donald Trump, Ftaiti said the U.S. President is “barking up the wrong tree.”

He says: “Paris is Paris. It’s America that’s not America.”

___

10:22 p.m.

President Donald Trump says Thursday’s fatal shooting in Paris “looks like another terrorist attack.”

Paris police say a gunman has killed a police officer and wounded another before being killed himself in an attack on the Champs-Elysees shopping district.

It was unclear how Trump concluded that terrorism may have been a factor. Paris police have yet to announce a motive,

Trump is also offering condolences from the U.S. to the people of France.

He calls the attack a “terrible thing” and says “it never ends.” He says people must be strong and vigilant.

The attack came three days before the first round of balloting in France’s presidential election.

___

10:10 p.m.

Paris police and soldiers have sealed off the area around the Champs-Elysees after an attack on police, ordering tourists back into their hotels and blocking people from approaching the scene.

Emergency vehicles blocked the wide avenue that cuts across central Paris between the Arc de Triomphe and the Tuileries Gardens, normally packed with cars and tourists.

Subway stations in the area were closed off on Thursday night while police secure the scene.

Security forces are more widespread in Paris since deadly Islamic extremist attacks in recent years, and France remains under a state of emergency.

___

10:05 p.m.

The French Interior Ministry says the shooting attack on the famed Champs-Elysees boulevard in Paris deliberately targeted police officers guarding the area.

Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said on BFM television that a man came out of a car and opened fire on a police vehicle.

One officer was killed and another was wounded.

Brandet says the police officers were “deliberately” targeted.

He says police are securing the area but there is “no other police operation underway” in the popular area.

Brandet says it’s too early to say whether the attacker might have had an accomplice, and said authorities are studying multiple potential motives.

Speaking in Washington during a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, U.S. President Donald Trump said the shooting in Paris “looks like another terrorist attack” and sent condolences to France.

___

9 p.m.

Paris police say a gunman has killed a police officer and wounded another before being killed himself in an attack on the Champs-Elysees shopping district.

Paris police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert told The Associated Press that the attacker targeted police guarding the area near the Franklin Roosevelt subway station Thursday night at the center of the avenue popular with tourists.

The attack came three days before the first round of balloting in France’s tense presidential election. Security is high preceding the vote after police said they arrested two men Tuesday in what they described as a thwarted terror attack.

The incident recalled two recent attacks on soldiers providing security at prominent locations around Paris, one at the Louvre museum in February and one at Orly airport last month.

A witness identified only as Ines told French television station BFM that she heard a shooting and saw a man’s body on the ground before police quickly evacuated the area where she works in a shop.

A French television station hosting a televised event with the 11 candidates running for president briefly interrupted its broadcast to report the shootings.

None of the candidates immediately commented.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

4/20/2017 1:09:02 PM (GMT -8:00)

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