PARIS, Apr 21: A Thursday attack in the French capital city Paris that killed one police officer and injured two casts new shadows on the security situation just three days before the French presidential election, China”s Xinhua news agency reported.
Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, who has spoken out against “Islamic totalitarianism,” said on France 2 TV that he was cancelling his planned campaign stops Friday.
Far-right contender Marine Le Pen, who campaigns against immigration and Islamic fundamentalism, offered her sympathy on Twitter for law enforcement officers “once again targeted.”
She also cancelled a minor campaign stop, and scheduled another.
The attack that “deliberately targeted” police officers happened Thursday evening on the renowned Champs Elysees shopping street.
The gunman, armed with a machine gun, got out of a car and opened fire at the police in front of the store on the street, reports quoted a witness as saying.
He then began running away and injured two other officers before getting shot in an exchange of fire with police.
The extremist group Islamic States (IS) then claimed responsibility for the shooting.
French President Francois Hollande called a defence meeting on Friday following the attack.
The president made a statement in front of the Elysee Palace after a meeting with Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Interior Minister Matthias Fekl.
He pledged “absolutely vigilant” security measures for the upcoming presidential election, which will start on Sunday.
“We must realise that our police force is exposed, and I repeat all the commitments I have made. Every effort must be made to ensure that these policemen and gendarmes are able to carry out their mission,” he said.
On Wednesday, during a meeting at the Elysee Palace, Hollande discussed with some of his ministers and army chiefs “specific vigilance and protection measures, including those in relation with cyber filed, taken at all levels during election period.”
“All appropriate means must be mobilised to ensure a good course of voting,” he said.
“The terrorist risk is higher than ever,” said French Interior Minister Matthias Fekl.
On Tuesday, French police arrested two men in Marseille, south France, suspected of planning “an imminent and violent act on French territory,” on the eve of election.
According to local reports, main presidential candidates, Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pan and Francois Fillon, have been warned of the risk of an eventual attack.
A total of 50,000 policemen and gendarmes will be mobilised during the two rounds of presidential elections on April 23 and May 7, Fekl said.
France remains in a state of emergency and on high alert over possible terrorist attacks. A group of terrorists killed 130 people in a series of explosions and shootings in November 2015.
In 2016, 17 attacks were thwarted, and 420 individuals linked to terrorist networks were arrested in France thanks to operations of the intelligence services, according to then Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.