A policeman was shot dead while two other officers were seriously injured by a Kalashnikov-wielding gunman on the Champs Elysees in central Paris – just three days before the French presidential election.
The alleged ISIS gunman, identified as 39-year-old Karim C [Cheurfi] – who was jailed for 20 years for trying to kill officers in 2001 – parked his Audi and opened fire after police stopped at a red light on the world famous avenue.
French police said the attack was probably a ‘terrorist act’ and dramatic video footage captured the moment police shot at the assailant, who later died.
Police have now launched a desperate manhunt for a second suspect after heavily armed officers flooded the area in the heart of the French capital.
Officers have been searching the home of the alleged shooter – who was known to security services and had been flagged as an ‘extremist’ – in east Paris and he had previously said that he ‘wanted to kill police’.
The fatal incident unfolded as presidential candidates, including National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, debated on a TV show nearby before Sunday’s election.
French newspaper Le Parisien named the attacker as Karim C, who used the alias ‘Abu Yousuf the Belgian’, and reportedly made threats to kill police using the social media app Telegram, an instant messaging service.
Karim was born in France and lived in Chelles, a commuter town close to Paris and was jailed for the 2001 attack – but is believed to have been released early in 2016.
The gunman has been identified by police but they will not officially reveal his name until investigators determine whether he had accomplices, according to the Paris prosecutor.
Francois Molins said: ‘The identity of the attacker is known and has been checked. I will not give it because investigations with raids are ongoing.
‘The investigators want to be sure whether he had or did not have accomplices.’
The Interior Ministry spokesman said the officers were deliberately targeted and the police union added that the policeman was killed while sat in a car at a red light.
US President Donald Trump said: ‘It looks like another terrorist attack. What can you say? It never ends.’
Police have issued an arrest warrant for a second suspect – a man understood to have arrived in France by train from Belgium.
Pierre-Henry Brandet, spokesman for France’s Interior Ministry, confirmed that one police officer was dead and two were seriously wounded following the ‘targeted attack’.
He said a ‘car pulled up just after 9pm’ next to a police patrol car which was parked up on the busy avenue.
A man jumped out with a Kalashnikov and started firing indiscriminately into the police vehicle and hit the unidentified officer who died.
The assailant then ran off, pursued by other officers. Two of them were wounded as they killed him.
Mr Brandet said ‘all lines of investigation were being pursued’, while intelligence sources said the dead assailant was a known radical on a so-called S-file, for ‘State-security’.
This means he would have been under surveillance, because he was a known risk to the country.
The French-born killer lived in Chelles, a commuter town close to Paris in the Seine-et-Marne department.
In 2003 he was sentenced to 20 years inside a high security prison following the attacks in Roissy-en-Brie, also in Seine-et-Marne.
But he was let out early following an appeal ruling, giving him the freedom to carry out tonight’s attack.
Karim C was the registered keeper of the grey Audi used in tonight’s attack. A raid on his home later found guns and ammunition, said intelligence sources.