French police come under fire in Paris; two reported shot – Washington Post

By James McAuley and ,

PARIS — French police came under fire Thursday on a famed Paris boulevard, and French news media reported that at least two were shot.

The shooting erupted on the Champs-Élysées after nightfall. The Reuters news agency, citing a police source, reported that one officer was killed and another wounded, and that a gunman was also killed. There was no immediate official confirmation from French authorities, and no indication of a possible motive.

The incident occurred three days before France holds the first round of a presidential election. The country has been hit by a wave of terrorist violence in the last two years that has claimed more than 300 lives.

The shooting — on the most famous boulevard in the French capital, always crowded with tourists and commuters — came just two days after authorities arrested two men in the southern city of Marseille on suspicion of plotting what Paris prosecutors described as an “imminent” and “violent” attack. Police discovered an Islamic State flag and three kilograms of explosives in one of their homes.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for previous attacks in France, including a coordinated November 2015 terrorist assault on multiple targets in Paris that left 130 people dead and more than 360 wounded.

After that attack and others in the last two years — many perpetrated by Islamic State militants or those claiming to be inspired by the extremist group — terrorism and national security remain crucial issues in the most contentious election France has seen in decades.

The leader of the far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, has campaigned heavily on an anti-immigrant platform and what she has couched as the need to defend France from “Islamist globalization.” In the final days of the campaign, she said she would halt immigration altogether if elected president.

The shooting occurred in the middle of a televised campaign event, when each of the 11 current candidates was given 15 minutes to sell voters on their respective platforms.

Branigin reported from Washington.

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