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Terrorism returns to Paris in Champs-Elysees attack

21 April 2017

Meanwhile, French police have taken into custody three family members of the gunman killed in Thursday's shootout the Champs Elysee, a legal source said on Friday.

It was one of nearly a dozen attacks and plots targeting the French security services since 2012, including the murder of a police officer and his wife by an Isis supporter north of Paris, a machete attack outside Le Louvre and an attempted murder at Orly airport.

Although the attack claimed only the lives of police officer and the killer, whose name were not immediately available, terror has been on the minds of the French at least the January, 2015, attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine targeted after mocking Islam, left a dozen dead.

On Friday, France said they were hunting for a new suspect based on a Belgian alert received a day earlier, but it later emerged the man had handed himself into a police station in the Belgian city of Antwerp.

Police shot and killed the gunman after he opened fire on a police van on Paris' most famous boulevard.

The outgoing president has also scheduled an emergency security cabinet meeting on Friday.

It is not certain whether the attack, in which a police officer was shot dead and two seriously injured, was terror-related, but French President Francois Hollande described it as "terrorist in nature".

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Masked police stand on top of their vehicle on the Champs Elysees Avenue after a policeman was killed and two others were wounded in a shooting incident in Paris, France, April 20, 2017.

With a record number of voters still undecided, analysts say the shooting, by a suspect said to be known to French security services for radical Islamist activities, could play into the narrative pushed by the far-right.

French voters head to the polls Sunday for the first round of voting.

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

A source within the investigation told AFP of the discovery as a probe continued into the chief suspect, a 39-year-old Frenchman who was the subject of a previous terror investigation.

The impact on the outcome of the French election is unclear - Sunday is the poll's first round - but far-right leader Marine Le Pen, her centrist rival Emmanuel Macron, and scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon cancelled campaign events planned for today.

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

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"The people of France will not take much more of this", he added.

The first round of the presidential election is to take place on Sunday and candidates have since cancelled or rescheduled their final campaign events ahead of it.

Police authorities called on the public to avoid the area. Three people from his entourage were being questioned by police.

In Washington, President Trump said the shooting in Paris "looks like another terrorist attack".

The incident follows two recent attacks on soldiers providing security at prominent locations around Paris - one at the Louvre museum in February and one at Orly airport in March.

More than 230 people have been killed in militant attacks in France since early 2015, leading to a ramping up of security, with thousands of troops deployed to patrol key sites.

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