Police officer and attacker dead after shooting incident on Champs-Elysees in Paris
PARIS, April 20 (Reuters) - The gunman who killed one police officer and wounded two others in central Paris on Thursday has been identified, but his name will not be revealed until investigators determine whether he had accomplices, a French prosecutor said Thursday.
"The identity of the attacker is known and has been checked. I will not give it because investigations with raids are ongoing," Francois Molins told reporters. "The investigators want to be sure whether he had or did not have accomplices."
Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the wounded police officers' lives were no longer in danger.
The shooting, in which the assailant was also killed, took place on the Champs-Elysees shopping boulevard just days ahead of France's presidential election.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the group's Amaq news agency.
It identified the attacker as one of its soldiers, naming him as Abu Yousif, the Belgian.
A witness told Reuters that a man got out of a car at the scene and began shooting with a machine gun. A police source also said more shots had been fired at another location near the scene.
Another police source told Reuters that new shots were fired near Paris' Champs Elysees avenue, more than an hour after a police officer was killed on the avenue earlier. Police have issued an arrest warrant for a second suspect in the shooting, according to a document obtained by Reuters.
A French interior ministry spokesman said it was too early to say what the motive of the attack was, but that it was clear the police officers had been deliberately targeted.
The French prosecutors' office said the counter-terrorism office had opened an inquiry.
Three police sources said, however, that the shooting could have been an attempt at an armed robbery.
"I came out of the Sephora shop and I was walking along the pavement where an Audi 80 was parked. A man got out and opened fire with a kalashnikov on a policeman," witness Chelloug, a kitchen assistant, told Reuters.
"The policeman fell down. I heard six shots, I was afraid. I have a two-year-old girl and I thought I was going to die... He shot straight at the police officer."
Police authorities called on the public to avoid the area.
TV footage showed the Arc de Triomphe monument and top half of the Champs Elysees packed with police vans, lights flashing and heavily armed police shutting the area down after what was described by one journalist as a major exchange of fire near a Marks and Spencers store.
The incident came as French voters prepared to go to the polls on Sunday in the most tightly-contested presidential election in living memory.
France has lived under a state of emergency since 2015 and has suffered a spate of Islamist militant attacks that have killed more than 230 people in the past two years.
Earlier this week, two men were arrested in Marseille whom police said had been planning an attack ahead of the election.
A machine gun, two handguns and three kilos of TATP explosive were among the weapons found at a flat in the southern city along with jihadist propaganda materials according to the Paris prosecutor.
(Reporting by Richard Balmforth; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Andrew Callus)
This is a developing news story. Please refresh for the latest details.