Cop killer gunman had note defending IS group
The Champs-Elysees gunman who shot and killed a Paris police officer just days before France's presidential election had a note with him defending the Islamic State group, France's anti-terrorism prosecutor said yesterday.
Police investigating Thursday's attack found a note that apparently fell from the pocket of French assailant Karim Cheurfi, praising IS, 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 the prosecutor said there was "a lack of known elements of radicalisation" in the suspect's past and he was released for lack of evidence of a threat.
Two officials told the Associated Press that Cheurfi was convicted in 2003 of attempted homicide in the shootings of two police officers.
The attack on the Champs-Elysees, a grand boulevard synonymous with French glamour, which traverses shops and landmarks, came less than 72 hours before the polls open in the first round vote of the presidential election.
The French government pulled out all the stops to protect Sunday's vote as the attack deepened France's political divide.
"Nothing must hamper this democratic moment essential for our country," Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after a high-level meeting yesterday, reviewing the government's already heightened security plans for the two-round presidential vote that begins Sunday.