Paris: Car crashes into police van on Champs Elysees, no casualties reported
A car burst into flames after it crashed into a police van on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris on Monday, police and investigators said, adding that the driver was armed and it appeared to be a “deliberate” act.
Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said police had pulled the driver out of the flaming vehicle and he was “very likely dead.”
Police had said earlier that the driver of the Renault Megane was “seriously injured” and “on the ground... unconscious.”
No police or bystanders were injured in the incident near the Grand Palais exhibition hall.
“Apparently, it’s a deliberate act,” a source close to the investigation said.
Anti-terrorism prosecutors have opened an investigation.
Police have closed two of the metro stations on the Champs-Elysees, a major tourist draw in the French capital.
The incident came just two months after a policeman was shot and killed on the world-renowned avenue, three days before the first round of France’s presidential election.
A note praising the Islamic State group was found next to the body of the gunman, Karim Cheurfi, in that incident.
Police later found other weapons in Cheurfi’s car including a shotgun and knives.
String of attacks
The incident on Monday was the latest in a string of attacks in London and Paris.
Two weeks ago jihadists used a van and knives to crush and kill eight people enjoying a night out in the British capital. Three of the victims were French.
Four days later, a hammer-wielding Algerian man was shot and wounded by police after he struck an officer on the head in front of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
In a video found at his home, he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
In London on Monday, a van ploughed into a crowd of Muslims near a London mosque early on Monday, leaving one person dead and injuring 10 others in the second terror attack this month in the British capital.
France is still under a state of emergency imposed after the November 2015 attacks in Paris, when Islamic State jihadists killed 130 people in a night of carnage at venues across the city.
Previous major attacks targeted the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in January 2015 and in November that year, gunmen and suicide bombers attacked venues around Paris including the Bataclan concert hall, killing 130 people in all.
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- That stance was echoed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who told Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi on Saturday that the contested islands were covered by the US-Japan Security Treaty.
- The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.