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Paris shooting: Gunman was 'focus of anti-terror' probe

The outcome of France’s presidential election is being closely watched for signs that Europe is moving toward nationalist candidates who advocate the Paris shooting: Gunman was 'focus of anti-terror' probe
Manuel Armenta | 22 Abril, 2017, 09:23

Warnings about an imminent terrorist attack had hung ominously in the air in the final weeks of the French presidential election. Cheurfi's identity was confirmed from his fingerprints.

France's far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Friday called on President Hollande to restore the country's border controls one day after a gunman opened fire on police on the Champs-Elysees. In a statement, the United Kingdom government said it "strongly condemns the appalling terrorist attack in Paris".

Le Pen repeated her call for all people who police have classified in their "S" files should be expelled if they are foreign or detained if they are French.

Polls suggest that voters have been influenced more by France's sluggish economy and sky-high unemployment than terror fears but analysts have always stressed that this would change in the event of bloodshed.

Both have sought to capitalise on the terror attack, which follows a series of Isis-linked massacres that have left more than 230 people dead in France since 2015. Cazeneuve, the Socialist prime minister, accused the National Front leader of seeking to make political hay from the assault.

The gunman, identified as 39-year-old Karim C who was jailed for 20 years for trying to kill officers in 2001 was said to have parked his Audi, walked up to the police in a van and opened fire just after the police stopped at a red light on the world famous avenue, Champs Elysees.

It was unclear whether the attack would tip the balance of the vote in favour of Le Pen, who has vowed to take a tough line on "Islamic terrorism". "This fight for freedom and for the security of the French people must be the priority of the next five-year term".

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "Once again the police family is in mourning and it serves to underline how fearless officers are putting their life on the line day in and day out to protect the public".

A source close to the investigation said the attacker had a long criminal record.

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

Victoria Police acting Commander Peter O'Neill would not release exact police numbers or detailed security plans for the day but said the force is prepared.

But debates have seen the left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon enjoy a surge in support, amid a recovery by the former Prime Minister Mr Fillon, whose chances were damaged by a scandal involving payments to his wife.

The centrist frontrunner, Emmanuel Macron, said he would also have French security in mind, pledging to increase police and gendarme numbers by 10,000 and improve intelligence services.

President François Hollande is to chair a security cabinet meeting, as France readies for Sunday's presidential poll.