Gunman Opens Fire on Champs-Élysées

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from The Wall Street Journal,

A gunman opened fire on the Champs-Élysées on Thursday, killing a police officer and severely wounding another in an assault prosecutors were investigating as a possible terror attack, just days before France’s presidential elections begin.

The assault began around 9 p.m., an Interior Ministry spokesman said, when a car pulled alongside a police patrol and the gunman jumped out wielding an automatic rifle. Police returned fire, killing the gunman, according to authorities.

“We can’t exclude whether there’s one or several accomplices,” Pierre-Henry Brandet, the Interior Ministry spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for antiterrorism prosecutors in Paris said they had opened an investigation into the assault. French President François Hollande said authorities were convinced it was a terror attack and expressed “great sadness” over the police officer’s death.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the suspected terror attack, said SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the extremist group’s communications.

The attack sent immediate ripples across the political landscape as the closely fought election was entering its final stretch. France 2, the state TV channel, briefly interrupted a live broadcast in which the 11 presidential candidates were outlining their platforms to broadcast footage showing the Champs-Élysées in lockdown.

“This threat will remain part of daily life for the coming years,” centrist Emmanuel Macron said on the live broadcast as details of the assault began to trickle out. “The first duty, the first mission of the president is to protect.”

The timing and location the assault, in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, was likely to shift the focus of a campaign that has been largely centered on economic issues. A string of attacks—including the Nov. 13, 2015, assault by Islamic State militants that killed 130 in Paris and the truck attack in Nice that killed 86 people on Bastille Day last July—has put France on edge. The government has declared and renewed a state of emergency, but the crackdown hasn’t stopped the drumbeat of periodic attacks.

François Fillon, a conservative who has focused his campaign on combatting what he calls “Islamic totalitarianism,” sought to draw contrast with Mr. Macron moments later saying: “We can’t keep living in this fear, this terror that weighs on the future of the country.”

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