Two police officers shot dead in Paris

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The attacker emerged from a auto and used an automatic weapon to shoot at officers outside a Marks & Spencer's store at the center of the Champs-Elysees, Molins said.

Initial reports had said the incident had left one officer wounded.

Hollande held an emergency meeting with the prime minister Thursday night and planned to convene the defense council Friday morning. He said the entire area is on lockdown and a full investigation will be carried out to figure out the motive.

The shooting happened about 9 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) when a vehicle stopped at 102 Champs-Elysees in front of a police van, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet said.

The attack was carried out around 9 pm on Thursday night when a auto stopped near a parked vehicle of the police.

So close to the presidential election, "the country's on edge", Eleanor says, adding that thousands of police officers are on the streets.

The gunman in the latest attack targeted police guarding the area near the Franklin D Roosevelt metro stop on the Champs Elysees on Thursday night (local time), at the centre of the avenue, which is popular with tourists.

The shooting has not officially been declared a terrorist act but anti-terrorist forces are leading the investigation, French President Francois Hollande said.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the attacker had been identified though he refused to give any further details, saying investigators wanted to determine whether he had any accomplices.

French police claimed to have foiled an "imminent" terrorist attack in the southern city of Marseille two days ago, arresting two men and seizing guns and explosives from their apartments. It just never ends.

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French media are reporting that two police officers were shot Thursday on the famed shopping boulevard.

The attacker had been flagged as an extremist, according to two police sources.

Police officers frisk a man on the Champs Elysees in Paris after the deadly shooting. They believe there was just one attacker, and the danger is likely over, the source said. "We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant".

"It's too early to say how or whether he was connected to what happened on the Champs Elysees", ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

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.

"They were running, running", said 55-year-old Badi Ftaiti, who lives in the area.

US President Donald Trump said the killing of a police officer appeared to be a terrorist attack.

The incident took place as presidential candidates took part in a TV debate nearby and it is understood that Francois Fillon has called for the first round of voting on Sunday to be suspended.

Ambulances and police vans were seen parked in the middle of the Champs-Elysées near the Arc de Triomphe, with their blue lights flashing, and forensics officers were also at the scene.

France has been under a state of emergency since 2015, and has lost more than 230 people over the past two years to terrorism attacks.