Paris gunman was 'French national'

PARIS-The gunman who killed a police officer on the Champs-Élysées was questioned by police as recently as February on suspicion he was a threat to public security, police officers said Friday.

The suspect was himself then killed by security forces - but not before two other officers and a tourist were injured.

Cops have said they are hunting a second suspect who may have been involved in the attack, during which the gunman targeted a patrol vehicle in the busy tourist area of Paris.

No comment on Islamic State's (IS, ISIL/ISIS) claim of responsibility for the attack, in which the terrorist group referred to the gunman as Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki ("The Belgian"), was forthcoming either.

The country's Chancellor, Angela Merkel said "my sympathies are with the victims their families" as she sent a message of condolence to President Francois Hollande of France.

The incident comes days before the French election, which is to take place on Sunday.

He also called for campaigning generally to be suspended, although from midnight on Friday the law says it has to stop anyway. Francois Fillon, who is the conservative candidate, said he would cancel the campaign events he had been planning for Friday.

The attack happened when a auto pulled up next to a police van, with a gunman getting out and immediately shooting at officers who were guarding an area near the Franklin Roosevelt metro station.

More than 50,000 police and gendarmes are mobilized to protect Sunday's first-round vote in the two-stage election, with an additional 7,000 soldiers also on patrol.

There are an estimated 10,000 people flagged as Islamic extremists in France and security forces say their resources enable them to monitor and mount surveillance of only a limited number.

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Three of his relatives were detained in searches of his family home in Chelles, although police stressed the move was standard procedure for questioning. Parliament voted in December to extend the extraordinary provisions to ensure the protection of upcoming presidential and general elections.

He said: I thought they were firecrackers.

But French authorities said the perpetrator was a 39-year-old Frenchman living in the Paris suburbs, whose name they did not release.

The attacks were claimed by Daesh, which is mainly active in Syria and Iraq.

The man police believe carried out the shooting on the Champs-Elysees in Paris was detained in February for threatening police and then freed, officials have said.

France has been in a state of emergency since the 2015 Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead.

Authorities are trying to determine whether "one or more people" might have helped the attacker, Brandet said.

That incident brought issues of security and immigration back to the forefront of the campaign, with the anti-immigration National Front leader Marine Le Pen repeating her call for Europe's partly open borders to be closed.

Speaking Friday on RTL radio, Macron said: "What our attackers want is death, symbolism, to sow panic (and) to disturb a democratic process, which is the presidential election".

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