An apparent “kamikaze attack” was thwarted on Paris’ Champs-Elysees Avenue on Monday when the driver of a auto filled with weapons and gas canisters was killed after ramming his vehicle into a police van, The Guardian reports.
France’s interior minister says the attempted attack on security forces on the Champs-Elysees shows the threat is still very high in the country and justifies the state of emergency.
Guns – including a Kalashnikov – as well as bottles containing gasoline were found in the auto, according to French media. According to reports, a auto crashed into a police van before going up in flames. It was the second major incident on the avenue this year.
Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said that the man is “most probably” dead.
France has been on high security alert following a series of militant Islamist attacks in recent years, including the shooting of a policeman in an Islamic State-claimed attack on a police bus on the Champs Elysees in April.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said a auto hit the leading vehicle in a line of police vans as they headed down the Champs-Elysees, near the Grand Palais exhibition hall. The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an anti-terror investigation into Monday’s incident.
There were no injuries or casualties among police officers or passers-bys.
French national police had tweeted that no one was injured in the incident.
Eric Favereau, a journalist for Liberation newspaper who was driving a scooter behind the gendarmes, said he saw a auto blocking the convoy’s path, then an implosion in the vehicle.
Police had earlier advised the public to avoid the area on Twitter and cordoned off an area near the presidential palace.
The incident happened around 3:45 p.m. local time and police smashed the windows of the vehicle to drag the motorist out and used fire extinguishers to douse the flames.
He tried to drive a vehicle into a police van on the Champs-Elysees, armed with a Kalashnikov, handguns and gas bottles which were were found in his auto.