One Paris police offer was killed and another two were wounded in an Islamic State terrorist attack Thursday.
The suspect, identified by ISIS’s Amaq news agency as Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, shot the officers with a “Kalashnikov” rifle on the famous Champs-Elysees boulevard, according to a French media report. Authorities reportedly shot and killed the suspect after the attack. French police believe the shooting was very likely “a terrorist attack,” reports Reuters.
Beljiki was previously flagged by authorities as an extremist, according to an Associated Press report. He also had a long criminal history, including previous shootouts with police. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, which was reduced to 15 years in 2005, according to L’Express.
The Islamic State cell responsible for the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015 used Kalashnikov-style rifles. Typical criminals in France tend to prefer smaller arms like pistols, whereas terrorist organizations prefer assault rifles like AK-47s (Kalashnikovs). Additionally, the possibility of a second attack location hints at a potentially coordinated terrorist attack.
Reuters also reported shots fired from a second location near the boulevard approximately one hour after reports came in from the first shooting.
The police officers were reportedly guarding an area near a subway station when the attacker opened fire on them.
“There was a police van and the guy came in an Audi A80, an old grey Audi,” a witness, identified only as Chelloug, told Sky News. “He parked just behind the van and he got out with a Kalashnikov and I heard six gunshots. I thought they were firecrackers, because we all looked around the road and there was no one. In fact, he was hidden behind the van and shooting at the police. I think he hit a policeman. As soon as the policeman opened the door of the van, he fell, I think. As soon as we saw that, we all ran back inside (a building). We hid and I went up to the first floor and we saw them (the policeman) shoot him (the perpetrator).”
France has been under a state of emergency ever since 130 people were killed in terrorist attacks in November 2015. The country has suffered several terrorist attacks since.
The area around the Champs Elysees went under lock down after the incident, with French officials warning citizens to stay away from the area.
Thursday’s shooting comes two days after French secret service agents foiled an “imminent” ISIS terrorist attack planned to occur ahead of the upcoming election Sunday.
This article will be updated as further information becomes available.
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