Auto rams police van on Champs-Elysees, armed suspect dead

Auto rams police van on Champs-Elysees, armed suspect dead

The attacker was a 31-year-old man from a Paris suburb who had been flagged for extremism, police officials said.

France has been on high security alert following a series of militant attacks in recent years, including the shooting of a policeman in an Daesh-claimed attack on a police bus on the Champs Elysees in April. A man rammed his auto into a police vehicle in Paris' Champs-Elysees shopping district Monday, prompting a fiery explosion, and was likely killed in the incident, authorities said.

A driver armed with weapons and explosives reportedly rammed into a police van in Paris Monday afternoon as bystanders on Champs-Élysées Boulevard stood and watched the terrifying event unfold.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb says the attack shows the country still faces a significant threat.

The incident is the second this year on the city's most famous avenue.

Authorities advised people to avoid the area.

France is still under a state of emergency imposed after the November 2015 attacks in Paris.

Four days later, a hammer-wielding Algerian man was shot and wounded by police after he struck an officer on the head in front of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

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France's interior minister said that the driver has died after the "attempted attack" on security forces. Bomb squads are combing the area and the nearest subway station is closed to the public.

Associated Press cited an eyewitness account by a journalist for French newspaper Liberation, Eric Favereau, who was driving a scooter behind a gendarmes convoy.

But upon collision, the vehicle - and not the van - burst into flames, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris. "They took the man out and put him a bit further away (from the car) on the other side of the road, " she recalled.

Visitors to an art exhibit of Auguste Rodin's works in central Paris were confined inside the Grand Palais for an hour after an attacker rammed into a police convoy on the nearby Champs-Elysees.

Victoria Boucher and daughter Chrystel came in from the suburb of Cergy-Pontoise for a Paris visit and weren't afraid to go to the famed avenue. But both agreed as the mother said, "unfortunately we now are used to this".

A man could be seen lying on his stomach on the ground immediately after the incident, wearing a white shirt and dark shorts.

"The show must go on", the daughter said in English. The account didn't say what happened to the occupant of the auto afterward.

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