Car hits police vehicle on Paris' Champs Elysees, driver arrested
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.
A masked French policeman secures the area on the Champs Elysees avenue
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.
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.