A police officer was killed, two others injured Thursday night when a gunman stepped out of his Audi and opened fire from a Kalashnikov on a police car on the iconic Champs Elysees, three days before France’s presidential election. ISIS claimed the gunman was one of its “soldiers.” A bystander was injured in the crossfire that killed the fleeing terrorist, whom police identified as French-born Karim Sherfi, 39, a known Muslim extremist, who was jailed for trying to kill police officers in 2001. However ISIS named him as Abu-Yusuf al-Baljiki, who came from Brussels for the attack.
Police cleared the iconic avenue as terrified people dived into offices and restaurants. A helicopter hovered overhead in the search for any accomplices as the gunman’s home was also searched. Eleven presidential candidates were holding a television confrontation at the same time. The attack is expected to tip the scales in favor of far-right Marine Le Pen, the candidate perceived as toughest on terrorism and immigration. Near midnight, President Francois Hollande said the attack was evidently an act of terrorism and promised “absolute vigilance for the elections,” the first round of which takes place Sunday.
President Donald Trump, who was meeting Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni at the White House, said in answer to a reporter’s question on the Paris attack: “That’s a terrible thing, and it’s a very, very terrible thing that’s going on in the world today,” he said. “But it looks like another terrorist attack. And what can you say — it just never ends. We have to be strong and very, very vigilant.”