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French police hold family members of Champs-Elysees attacker, sources say

20 June 2017

A driver deliberately rammed his auto into a police van as it drove down Paris' Champs Elysees avenue and was probably killed, police said, adding that no officers or bystanders were injured and the situation was under control.

The driver who attacked police on the Champs-Elysées on Monday had a permit to carry arms, sources close to the case have admitted, despite the fact he was on France's terror watchlist for having been radicalized.

Sources say a deliberate nature of the act is preferred for the investigation.

"We were waiting to cross the street and suddenly heard an explosion and the auto was in flames", said Eugenio Morcilla, who captured video after the collision.

Reports about the state of health of the driver is confusing at the moment, while some say he's arrested, some say he's dead or seriously injured.

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The armed driver deliberately plowed into the police vehicle and later died, authorities said.

Two French police officials have told The Associated Press that a suspected attacker drove into a police vehicle on the Champs-Elysees shopping district in Paris, and is now lying on the ground immobilized.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the man was killed after an attempted attack on a police convoy, saying that shows the threat is still very high in the country and justifies a state of emergency in place since 2015.

France remains under a state of emergency imposed after the November 2015 attacks in Paris, when Islamic State jihadists slaughtered 130 people in a night of carnage at venues across the city.

Police attend the scene on Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France, Monday, June 19, 2017.

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The police and the army have consistently been attacked by extremists in France.

The national police Twitter account had earlier said (in French) that there was an "ongoing police operation", warning people to respect the security cordon.

A heavy Paris police presence was seen at the shopping district, and people had been urged to avoid the area, which is popular with tourists.

Police have closed two of the metro stations on the Champs-Elysees, a major tourist draw in the French capital.

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French police hold family members of Champs-Elysees attacker, sources say