Champs Elysées Assailant Karim Cheurfi Had Note Justifying ISIS
Karim Cheurfi was arrested in February but was released for the lack of evidence.
The Champs-Elysees gunman who shot and killed a Paris police officer just 72 hours before France's presidential election had a note with him defending the Islamic State group, France's anti-terrorism prosecutor said on Friday.
Police investigating Thursday's attack found a note praising IS that apparently fell from the pocket of French assailant Karim Cheurfi, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said. Cheurfi also had addresses of police stations written on bits of paper in his car, he said.
The extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack in an unusually quick statement. Cheurfi, 39, was shot and killed by officers at the scene. Molins said Cheurfi had a criminal record that included threatening police and that he was arrested in February but was released for the lack of evidence.
The attack has pushed national security to the top of the French political agenda on Friday, two days before the presidential election.
With the first round of voting in the two-stage election taking place on Sunday, far-right nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen promised tougher immigration and border controls to beat "Islamist terrorism" if elected.
Centrist Emmanuel Macron, who narrowly leads a tight race ahead of Le Pen, said the solutions were not as simple as she suggested, and that there was "no such thing as zero risk".
The French government pulled out all the stops to protect Sunday's vote as the attack deepened France's political divide.
Appealing for national unity and urging people to “succumb to fear”, French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said:
Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country. Barbarity and cowardice struck Paris last night.
The policeman killed in the attack was identified as Xavier Jugele by Flag!, a French association of LGBT police officers.
French police have taken into custody three family members of the gunman killed in a shootout with police on Paris' Champs Elysee on Thursday, a legal source said on Friday. They are also looking for a second suspect in connection with the fatal shooting of a policeman in Paris, French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.
(With inputs from AP, Reuters)
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