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Man drives into police vehicle on Champs-Elysees

20 June 2017, 05:09 | Darnell Patrick

The Champs-Elysees avenue in central Paris was sealed off on Monday afternoon after a driver rammed a gendarmerie van.

A man carrying guns and explosives died when he rammed a vehicle into a police van Monday on Paris' famed Champs-Élysées in what officials characterize as a deliberate attack.

"This shows once again that the threat level in France is extremely high", the interior minister said.

The gunman in that attack had previous convictions for attempted murder of police officers not related to terrorism, but authorities said a piece of paper found near his body bore a message of support for Islamic State, which claimed the killing.

The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an anti-terror investigation into the incident, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

It sparked a huge security operation as armed police rushed to the scene, with video from the area showing at least seven police vans lining the road.

The 33-year-old man, who did not succeed in injuring any officers, was "known to the police and thought to be radicalised", said a source.

It imposed emergency security rules in the wake of the 2015 attacks which killed 130 people.

Police forces secure the area on the Champs Elysées in Paris, Monday, June 19, 2017.

The suspect is wearing a white shirt and dark shorts and prone on his stomach on the avenue.

Two police officials told The Associated Press that a handgun was found on the driver, who they said was badly burned after the vehicle exploded.

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It was the second terror attack this month in the British capital.

The attacker is "most probably" dead and the bomb squad is on the scene, a French security official said.

Police who searched the auto found a Kalashnikov assault rife in the boot, along with knives and rounds of ammunition.

The vehicle hit the front of the police van as it was overtaking it and caught fire, police said.

The gendarmes broke open the windows of the auto while it was in flames and pulled its occupant from the vehicle while others attempted to extinguish the flames.

Other officers used fire extinguishers to put out the flames, Favereau said.

Visitors to an art exhibit showcasing Auguste Rodin's works in the centre of the French capital were confined inside the Grand Palais for an hour after the attack.

"Then suddenly we saw four policemen arrive, they knocked on the window, they said 'Sir, are you alright?"

"I'll go back to my hotel now", said Alexander Ferreira.

"By God's grace, we were able to protect him from harm", Mahmoud said.



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