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Islamic State claims killing of French policeman ahead of elections

Pol O Gradaigh and Sebastian Kunigkeit, DPA on

Published in News & Features

PARIS -- The Islamic State extremist organization claimed responsibility for the shooting death of a French policeman on Paris' Champs-Elysees on Thursday, three days before the first round of the country's presidential election.

The organization's Amaq news outlet said that the perpetrator, whose alias suggested he was from Belgium, was a member of the group.

The attacker pulled up beside a police car on the central Paris avenue and opened fire, killing one of the officers in the vehicle, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

He then tried to escape on foot, still firing, and injured another two officers seriously before being shot dead.

But Brandet noted that there had only been the one incident in Paris, not multiple ones, as in the 2015 terrorism attacks in the city that were also claimed by Islamic State.

"There was only one incident of this kind this evening in Paris, there were no others," he said, denying reports that a second policeman had died in the attack.

The area was sealed off by police and bomb disposal experts started to examine the suspect's car, although it was not clear if that was due to specific concerns or was a routine precaution.

President Francois Hollande, speaking minutes before the Islamic State claim was published, said he was convinced that "the paths for the investigation ... are of a terrorist nature."

Anti-terror prosecutors took over the probe shortly after the attack, which took place at about 9 p.m. local time near the Arc de Triomphe, an area popular with tourists.

"A national tribute will be paid to this police officer who was murdered in such a cowardly manner," Hollande said.

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