The Islamic State (Da’esh / ISIS) terrorist group has claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on Paris police Thursday night.
French President Francois Hollande told reporters he was convinced the attack was “terrorist-related” but gave no details about how he reached that conclusion.
ISIS said in a statement issued by its Amaq news agency that one of its “fighters” had carried out the attack.
“The perpetrator of the attack in Champs Elysee in central Paris is Abu Yussef the Belgian and he is one of the Islamic State’s fighters,” the terrorist organization said.
Central Paris remained on lock-down Thursday night (April 20) after a terrorist — known to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) — opened fire with an automatic weapon at French police officers in a patrol car.
He killed one of the officers, wounded another plus a passerby and then turned and fled. He was shot and killed before he could escape.
The attack took place on the Champs Elysees, the boulevard along which the presidential palace is located, near the Arc d’Triomphe at 9 pm local time near the Franklin Roosevelt subway station in the central area popular with tourists.
U.S. President Donald Trump was greeting the new prime minister of Italy as the attack was taking place; the two leaders met with journalists shortly after. “Our condolences from our country to the people of France,” Trump said during a press conference with Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
“It is a very, very terrible thing that’s going on in the world today, but it looks like another terrorist attack. What can you say? It just never ends. We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant and I have been saying it for a long time.”
Paris police warned people to avoid the area, as did the U.S. State Department in a cell phone alert to American citizens present in the city, according to the reports.
The attack came just three days before the nation’s general elections, and because the presidential campaign has been so divisive, French security personnel were already in a heightened state of alert.
France has been under a general alert for months in the wake of the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks.