Auto ploughs into police van in Paris Champs-Elysees 'attack'
Jun 20 2017 by Michele Stevens
A vehicle carrying two gas canisters, two handguns and one Kalashnikov collided with a police auto near the Champs-Elysées in Paris around 3:40 p.m. local time Monday, and the incident is being investigated as an act of terror, the Paris prosecutor's office confirmed to ABC News.
The BBC reports that the investigators found a Kalashnikov rifle, gas bottles, and handguns in the vehicle. Earlier it was reported that the driver was arrested, however, AP stated the driver may have died following the incident.
Champs-Elysees is Paris' most popular avenue and one of the city's popular tourist attraction. It is unclear why the attacker drove into police, though the Interior Ministry spokesman said the incident was apparently deliberate.
Gérard Collomb, France's interior minister, did not hesitate to call the attack an attempt to commit terrorism.
According to the Associated Press and France's BFM TV, the driver was a 31-year-old from a Paris suburb who was known to security services and had previously been flagged for extremism.
He said the current situation in France shows a new security law "is needed" and the measure would "maintain a high security level" beyond the end of the state of emergency.
The incident comes just two months after a policeman was shot and killed on the world-renowned avenue, three days before the first round of France's presidential election.
Police later found other weapons in Cheurfi's auto including a shotgun and knives.
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The French national gendarmerie service says the driver of a auto that rammed a law enforcement vehicle has been arrested.
No police or bystanders were injured in the incident, which occurred near the Grand Palais exhibition hall.
Reports suggest the attacker was badly burned.
France is still under a state of emergency after several deadly Islamic extremist attacks.
Paris police say a security operation is underway in the Champs-Elysees shopping district and are urging people to avoid the area.
The gunman, Karim Cheurfi, was shot dead by police and a note praising the Islamic State group was found next to his body.
That incident recalled two other attacks on soldiers providing security at prominent locations around Paris, one at the Louvre museum in February and one at Orly airport in March.