Paris attack will 'probably help' Le Pen in France

Police secure the Champs Elysee Avenue after one policeman was killed and another wounded in a shooting incident in Paris

Cherufi was killed in a shootout with police after he got out of his auto on the Champs Elysees and opened fire at a police vehicle.

Police investigating Thursday's attack found a note praising IS that apparently fell from the pocket of French assailant Karim Cheurfi, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said. Yesterday, French authorities said a suspect sought by Belgium police, who was suspected of having planned to travel to France on Thursday, had handed himself in at a police station in the Belgian city of Antwerp. Two police officers were injured in the assault, one of whom remains in hospital.

On Friday, French prosecutors announced Cheurfi had four prior criminal convictions for crimes including attempted murder.

Cheurfi was arrested in February on suspicion of plotting to kill police officers but released because of a lack of evidence.

Cheurfi served 10 years in prison after firing on two plainclothes officers in 2001 as they tried to apprehend him in a stolen auto.

Macron is leading most opinion polls for the election's first round on Sunday and is expected to contest a second-round run-off with Le Pen.

The election is the first in the history of France's 59-year-old Fifth Republic to take place under a state of emergency.

"Barbarity and cowardice struck Paris last night", he said as he appealed for national unity and for people "not to succumb to fear".

IS had swiftly claimed the attack was carried out by one of its "fighters". He returned to the concert venue for its reopening a year later with a concert by Sting. Belgian media said he worked at a petrol station.

Authorities are trying to determine whether "one or more people" might have helped the attacker, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told reporters at the scene of the shooting.

John Finney, an American tourist from Kentucky visiting Paris with his family told NBC News that he had been 10 feet away when the shooter opened fire.

"A pump action shotgun, ammunition, two kitchen knives and [shears] were found in the trunk" of Cheurfi's auto, he said. Cheurfi's identity was confirmed from his fingerprints. With polling just two days away, and campaigning banned from Friday at midnight, they would have no time to recover before polls open on Sunday.

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U.S. President Donald Trump has called the French presidential elections as "very interesting".

French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon gestures as he delivers his speech during a campaign meeting in Toulon, southern France, Friday, March, 31, 2017.

Le Pen, who leads the National Front, has made immigration and security a core part of her campaign.

There's a lot riding on the French election. "This must be a priority", he said.

Macron "now has good chances to come first in the first round and is therefore unlikely to be eliminated", Odoxa's Gael Sliman said in a note accompanying the poll.

The AP report also notes that the president added "he's not anxious about emboldening terrorists by saying an attack can have an impact on a democratic election".

"We don't understand why Islamic State has identified the wrong person", said a police source.

Le Pen has moved quickly to present herself as the strongest defender against Islamist radicals in a country scarred by a string of attacks that have claimed 239 lives since 2015.

"She won't be able to protect our citizens", Macron said.

IS has said it was behind the attack.

The attack adds to an already unpredictable race, said Simon Lightfoot, senior lecturer in European Politics at the University of Leeds.



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