A police man was shot and killed on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Thursday evening.
According to reports, a man dressed in black approached a police car stopped at a red light. He proceeded to open fire on the vehicle, using a firearm witnesses described as a “war weapon”, which is believed to be a Kalashnikov.
The gunman was shot dead by police as he fled the scene.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) has claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the attacker.
Isil, in an unusual move by the organization, have identified the gunman as one of their soldiers, Abu Yousif from Belgium. Police have however, refused to confirm the identity of the attacker until it was determined whether he was working with others or not.
What has emerged is that the gunman was known to police. According to reports, he had reportedly been recently detained and questioned by police in Meaux, outside Paris, following a tip-off police received claiming he was “seeking to obtain weapons to kill policemen”.
Anti-terror prosecutors were obliged to release him for lack of evidence.
The suspect is also believed to have served a prison sentence for attacking police. According to reports, he was arrested 16 years ago for shooting at police. During his interrogation, he was able to get hold of a police firearm, which he fired five times. No one died in that incident, but he spent several years in prison for the attack.
The attack comes just days before the first round of presidential elections are to take place.
Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillon, two of the candidates involved in the elections, confirmed that they would be cancelling their campaign trips scheduled for Wednesday.
“The fight against terrorism must be the absolute priority of the next French president,” said Fillon.
Security across the country will be heightened for Sunday’s election.