Family Members Detained After Champs-Elysees Attack

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Police carry away the dead body of a man who rammed into a police convoy and detonated an explosive device on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris in Paris, France, Monday, June 19, 2017. The man had a gun permit, which was granted shortly before he was flagged with authorities.

French police have taken into custody four members of the family, a source said on Tuesday.

French police detained the ex-wife, father, brother and sister-in-law of the man behind Monday's attack on a Gendarmerie van on Paris' Champs-Elysees. The incident on one of the French capital's busiest shopping and tourist districts rattled the city anew after multiple attacks targeting security forces.

Asked on BFM television why his permit wasn't rescinded, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said that "if you take away a permit from someone who is the subject of surveillance or being monitored, he will quickly understand why it has been taken away".

Philippe said draft legislation drawn up in May envisaged changes to allow officials who handle gun permits to check if individuals seeking licences are on a watchlist. Police sources told AFP that a Kalashnikov assault rifle, handguns and gas canisters were found in the vehicle. "It's a hard decision".

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Anti-terrorist prosecutors have launched a probe into the incident which the police said was being treated as a "terrorist attack". Initial reports suggested that the man's auto burst into flames after hitting the gendarmerie van, after which police had to break windows to drag the unconscious driver from the vehicle.

Gendarmes jumped out of their vehicle, ran to his auto, smashed its windows and pulled him out in an apparent attempt to save him, according to witnesses, the Telegraph reported.

France has been on high security alert following a series of militant Islamist attacks, including the shooting of a policeman in an Islamic State-claimed attack on a police bus on the Champs Elysees, one of the world's most famous thoroughfares, in April.

Collomb said he would present a bill at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday to extend the state of emergency from July 15, its current expiration date, until November 1.