The second suspect in the latest Paris terror attack has handed himself into Belgian police, AFP reports.
French authorities hunted the man in relation to the attack on the Champs-Elysees on Thursday night, during which one police officer was killed and two others were injured.
The main perpetrator, who opened fire with an automatic Kalashnikov rifle, was killed on the scene.
He was known to police in relation to Islamist terrorist activity and was detained and released as recently as February for threatening a police officer, Press Association reported, citing French officials.
At the around 9 p.m. local time (CET) on Thursday night, the attacker jumped out of a car and shot at a police van on the Champs-Elysees in central Paris.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack through Amaq, a news agency associated with the terror group. The attacker was known to ISIS as Abu Yussef, or “the Belgian,” according to AFP. The Guardian said the suspect was 39, and his home was in Seine-et-Marne, outside Paris.
The two injured officers are in serious condition, according to Reuters, citing the French Interior Ministry, despite prior reports that one of them had died.
Shortly after the attack, French President Francois Hollande said authorities were convinced it was “terrorist-related,” according to Reuters. But Reuters also cited three police sources who say it may have been an attempted armed robbery, and a French Interior Ministry spokesman said it was too early to identify a motive.
“We must all be aware that our security forces do work that is particularly difficult, that they are exposed, as one can see again this evening, and that they have the nation’s full support,” Hollande said.
The gunman was a French national who was known to police for “radical Islamist activities,” according to CNN. He had shot and wounded three police officers in 2001, and had also been involved in violent robberies, CNN reported. These reports are yet to be confirmed by the French authorities.
However, authorities searched his home in a suburb of eastern Paris on Thursday.
The attack overshadowed the final day of campaigning for the first round of the French election, which takes place on Sunday. A poll, carried out before Thursday’s attack for BFM TV and L’Express, shows that centrist Emmanuel Macron remains favourite to triumph with 24% of the vote.
Thursday’s events could play into the hands of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, however, because of her strong anti-immigration policies. Le Pen said on Friday that France should immediately reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services, according to Reuters.
“Today fundamentalist Islam is waging war and… the measures are not being taken to limit the risks,” she is quoted as telling French radio station RFI. The BFM TV and L’Express poll puts Le Pen in second place with 21.5% of the vote.
This story is developing.
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