|The police swarmed the area around the Champs-Élysées after the shooting.|
A gunman wielding an assault rifle on Thursday night killed a police officer on the city’s most iconic boulevard, the Champs-Élysées, stirring France’s worst fears of a terrorist attack, which could tip voting in a hotly contested presidential election that starts on Sunday.
The gunman was shot dead by the police as he tried to flee on foot; two other police officers and a bystander were wounded. The police quickly blocked access to the crowded thoroughfare, lined with restaurants and high-end stores, as a helicopter hovered overhead.
The attack set off panic and a scramble for shelter, and officers began searching for possible accomplices after the attack. Near midnight, President François Hollande said in an address to the nation that the attack appeared to be an act of terrorism. The Islamic State claimed responsibility in a message posted on a jihadi channel, and the Paris prosecutor said he had opened a terrorism investigation. The attack came only days before the start of a presidential vote that could reverberate across Europe, and as the 11 candidates were having their final quasi-debate on the France 2 television network.
|Police officers near the site of the shooting, which took place just before 9 p.m. in central Paris.|
Mr. Hollande, who spoke from the Élysée Palace, offered an emotional tribute to the police, who he said were the country’s first line of defense, and endeavored to reassure a nervous public.
“It has been the case for a number of months, and we will have absolute vigilance when it comes to the elections,” he said, “but everyone will understand that at this hour, my thoughts are with the family of the police who were killed and with those close to the wounded policeman.”