At least two police officers are dead following an Islamic terrorist attack on Paris’ iconic Champs-Élysées. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.
Reports indicate the terrorist, who was armed with an automatic weapon, opened fire on a police van parked on the famous avenue. The alleged jihadi was killed during the attack.
“We must be intransigent with the mortal danger that fundamentalist Islam represents for our country.”
Prior to ISIS’ taking credit for the attack, French President Francois Hollande told reporters he is convinced the attack was an act of terrorism. Indeed, a counterrorism investigation was already underway, and authorities have confirmed that the attacker had previously been flagged as an extremist. No other details about the attacker are currently known.
The attack follows the attempted March 18 attack in Île-de-France, Paris, in which Ziyed Ben Belgacem tried to seize a firearm from a soldier at an airport. It is the seventh terrorist attack in Paris in two years, and the 22nd terrorist attack in France as a whole during that time period.
The attack also comes just three days before the first round of the French presidential elections and could possibly affect the race, which has been marked by the rise of right-wing populist Marine Le Pen, whose success is due in part to her anti-Islamic immigration stance.
“We must be intransigent with the mortal danger that fundamentalist Islam represents for our country,” Le Pen reportedly said last Saturday. In February, Le Pen railed against “Islamist globalization” — an “ideology that wants to bring France to its knees.”
Even François Fillon, Le Pen's scandal-sunk, center-right moderate rival, has been forced to take a significantly uncharacteristic hardline approach to Islamic immigration, both in the wake of Le Pen's success and the numerous acts of Islamic terror on French soil. "I want strict administrative control of the Muslim faith," Fillon said in January.
With Thursday's horrific attack Fresh in voters' minds on Sunday, they are sure to remember the words Le Pen spoke at a campaign rally only on Wednesday. "Mass immigration is not an opportunity for France," she said. "It's a tragedy for France."