One police officer was killed Thursday, with at least two others wounded, in a shooting on the Champs-Elysees in central Paris, the French Interior Ministry said. According to French officials, police appeared to be the target of an attack carried out just days before the country heads to the polls for general elections. Following the attack, the Champs-Elysees, one of Paris' most popular tourist attractions, has been closed to all vehicle traffic, with police urging people to avoid the area.
In a statement to local broadcaster BFM TV, French Interior Ministry Spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet suggested police were specifically targeted in the shooting. "An automatic weapon was used against police, a weapon of war," Brandet told reporters. He added that an attacker exited a vehicle on the Champs-Elysees and opened fire on a police van, killing at least one officer and wounding two more. The attacker was shot and killed by police before he could leave the scene. It was unclear whether the suspect had been a man or a woman.
The incident is being investigated by Paris prosecutors' counter-terrorism office, and French authorities initially said it was too early to tell what the attacker's motives were, or if the attack was an act of terrorism, Reuters reported. Police sources also reportedly told Reuters the shooting could have been an armed robbery attempt.
U.S. President Donald Trump said the incident in Paris "looks like another terrorist attack" during a joint press conference Thursday with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. "Our condolences from our country to the people of France," President Trump said. "It looks like another terrorist attack and... what can you say? It just never ends. We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant and I have been saying it for a long time."
Shortly after President Trump offered his condolences, Reuters reported French President François Hollande had said late Thursday he was convinced the shooting on the Champs-Elysees was "terrorist-related." Hollande also announced he would be meeting with his security cabinet Friday morning.
Thursday's shooting on the Champs-Elysees comes just two days after French Interior Minister Matthias Fekl announced police had arrested two men suspected of plotting a "terror attack" in Marseille.
French voters are expected to cast ballots in the country's general election on Sunday.