Champs-Elysées attacker was known to the police

Rachel Middleton
Paris shooting

The attacker who killed a 30-year-old French policeman and injured two of his colleagues on Thursday evening (20 April) on the Champs-Elysées, just days before the presidential election, was known to anti-terror police, according to local media.

AFP reported that police have raided the attacker's address in Chelles, a suburb in the east of Paris. Although French authorities have yet to name the assailant, a statement from Isis, which has claimed responsibility for the attack, has identified him.

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The Isis statement, published by its propaganda agency Amaq, said: "The perpetrator of the attack in Champs Elysées in central Paris is Abu Yousif the Belgian, and he is one of the Islamic State's fighters."

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said that he will reveal the shooter's identify on Friday (21 April) at a news conference. He confirmed that officers were searching the man's residence in Chelles, Seine-et-Marne, and are checking to see if he had accomplices.

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Associated Press said it has seen a police document, which identified the address searched by police as the family home of Karim Cheurfi, who also allegedly uses the alias Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki [the Belgian].

Sunday's French presidential election is one of the most significant polls in the country's modern history and also one of the closest, with five candidates all vying for the popular vote. Far right Front National leader Marine Le Pen had on Monday (17 April) tried to make the terror attacks in France a campaign issue by saying at an election rally that had she been in power, there would have been no terrorist attacks on the French territory.

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Dangerous individual

Reuters said that a police arrest warrant was issued on Thursday which warned of a dangerous individual who had "come into France by train from Belgium on Thursday". It said it was not clear if the man sought in the arrest warrant was the attacker in Champs Elysees or was linked to the shooting.

The news agency said that the dead attacker was known to the French anti-terror police. Some local French media have published the name of the terrorist and claimed that the 39-year old was sentenced to 20 years in prison for trying to kill police officers in 2003.

According to news reports, the attacker had also made threats through Telegram, an instant messaging service, to kill more police.

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They claimed that the French-born terrorist, who lived in Chelles, had opened fire on two police officers in 2001 after he was caught in a stolen car.

Citing police sources, the local media alleged that the assailant was released early from a high-security prison following an appeal. They also claimed that Abu Yussef was the registered owner of the grey vehicle used in the attack on the Champs-Elysées.

The last post on the Interior Ministry's Twitter page asks the public: "Do not spread any misinformation. Please only share information coming from a trusted source."

The shooting on the Champs Elysees took place at around 9pm local time when a car stopped in front of a police van, Pierre Henry Brandet, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said.

A man emerged from the car and opened fire on the van with an "automatic weapon", killing an officer instantly. The attacker than ran away and managed to shoot and wound two other policemen.

Brandet said the gunman was later shot dead by other policemen.

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