French policeman killed in Paris attack claimed by ISIL

REUTERS photo

A known terror suspect shot dead a French policeman and wounded two others on April 20 on Paris's Champs Elysees in an attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group days before a presidential election.
 
Observers had long feared bloodshed ahead of April 23 vote in France following a string of atrocities since 2015 and the violence is likely to thrust security to the front of voters' minds.
 
The shooter opened fire with an automatic weapon on a police van on the world-famous boulevard at around 9:00 pm (1900 GMT), prompting tourists and visitors to run for their lives.
 
After killing the officer and injuring his colleagues just a few hundred metres from the Arc de Triomphe, the gunman was shot dead in return fire while trying to flee on foot, police sources told AFP.
 
A statement from the ISIL group published by its propaganda agency Amaq said the attacker was "one of the Islamic State's fighters".
 
The killer, identified as a 39-year-old French man, was known to anti-terror police, sources told AFP, and raids took place at his address in a suburb to the east of Paris.
 
He was arrested in February on suspicion of plotting to kill officers but was released because of lack of evidence.
 
He had been convicted in 2005 of three counts of attempted murder, with two of these against police officers, sources said.
 
The impact on the outcome of the French election is unclear -- Sunday is the poll's first round -- but far-right leader Marine Le Pen, her centrist rival Emmanuel Macron, and scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon cancelled campaign events planned for April 21.
 
Up until now, surveys showed voters more concerned about unemployment and their...

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