Paris Shootout Leaves One Police Officer, Gunman Dead

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He had been arrested in February on suspicion of plotting to kill police officers but released because of lack of evidence.

Ms Le Pen used the aftermath of the Champs-Elysees attack - which Islamic State has claimed it carried out - to call for the government to immediately expel foreigners being monitored by intelligence services and reinstate France's borders.

France, which has suffered from a wave of bloodshed over the past two years killing more than 230 people, has long feared an attack on the presidential election, the first round of which takes place on Sunday. But Belgium's interior minister said the pseudonym did not belong to the attacker. In a coordinated string of attacks - bombings and mass shootings - some 130 people were massacred and scores more were injured.

"Our country, France, has again known the barbarism of a terrorist attack at the very heart of our capital", she said, as she hit out at France's "so-called leaders" for failing to protect citizens. "What we can confirm, is that the perpetrator was a French national", Jambon told VRT.

A gunman opened fire with an automatic weapon on a police van at around 9:00 pm on Thursday.

One police officer was killed and two more were injured in a shooting in Paris on Thursday, multiple news outlets are reporting.

The shooting comes just days before first-round votes are cast Sunday in France's closely watched presidential election.

While serving a 10-year sentence, he also shot and wounded a prison officer after grabbing his gun.

Police and soldiers are stationed at multiple sites around the broad, cobblestoned avenue Friday morning.

Earlier this week French authorities arrested two men in Marseille who were allegedly planning an attack in a run-up to the election.

The Paris prosecutor François Molins says the gunman has been identified, but his name will not be revealed until investigators determine whether he had accomplices.

French riot police officers patrol on the Champs Elysees boulevard, with the Arc of Triomphe in background, in Paris, Friday, April 21, 2017.

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The Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

However previous attacks that have taken place soon before elections, including the November 2015 attacks in Paris ahead of regional polls and the shooting in a Jewish school before the 2012 presidentials, did not appear to change the course of those ballots in favour of those espousing tougher national security.

He said "the whole of Europe is targeted because it represents the values and ideals of peace".

He had been convicted in 2005 of three counts of attempted murder, with two of these against police officers, sources said.

Police closed off a large part of the Champs-Elysees Thursday. Obama's spokesman said the former USA president, who is popular in France, was not making a formal endorsement.

There are 11 candidates in the running, including far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen and former economy minister Emmanuel Macron.

The speed of the claim and the fact the attacker was identified suggests he was in contact with the group and informed militants of his plan in advance.

French police were on Friday hunting a second suspect in connection with the fatal shooting of a policeman in Paris, French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said, Reuters reported.

French President Francois Hollande promised "absolute vigilance, particularly with regard to the electoral process" and paid tribute to the police.

One of the key questions was if, and how, the attack that killed one police officer and wounded three other people might impact voting intentions.

The main candidates called off rallies on what would have been the final day of campaigning.