French interior minister, Gérard Collomb, says the driver of a auto carrying weapons and explosives that rammed into a police van on Paris’s Champs Elysées on Monday, has died.
Police sources told AFP that a Kalashnikov rifle, handguns and gas bottles were found in the white Renault Megane. Earlier it was reported that the driver was arrested, however, AP stated the driver may have died following the incident.
An attacker inspired by so-called Islamic State group shot and killed a police officer on the Champs-Elysees in April, days before the presidential election, prompting an extensive security operation.
It also marks the second time this year that Paris’ most famous avenue, renowned for its shopping, dining and monuments, has been the scene of bloodshed. It is unclear why the attacker drove into police, though the Interior Ministry spokesman said the incident was apparently deliberate.
“Security forces have been targeted in France once again”, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said, calling the incident an “attempted attack”.
Tomorrow, the French government is to unveil a new anti-terrorism law, created to allow the state of emergency to be lifted.
Police later found other weapons in Cheurfi’s vehicle including a shotgun and knives.
It is not yet clear what the alleged attacker’s motivation was in the incident today.
On Monday, police cordoned off a broad swath of the Champs-Elysees after the latest incident, warning people to avoid the area.
They identified him as a 31-year-old man from the Paris suburb of Argenteuil who had an “S” file, meaning he was flagged for links to extremism.
“I saw gendarmes get out of a van, run, break the window” of the vehicle, she said in an interview. Paris police said neither gendarmes nor passers-by were injured.
France has been under a state of emergency since the November 2015 attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris.
There are no reports of any casualties aside from the suspected attacker.
The area was busy with tourists at 3.40pm when the impact appears to have triggered a “gas bomb” inside the vehicle.
Police cordoned off the area only a short walk away from Elysees presidential palace and the US embassy, Reuters reporters on site said.
France has been hit by a wave of deadly terror attacks in recent years.