France's presidential candidates have expressed solidarity with police forces following the shooting of three officers in Paris, leaving one dead and two gravely wounded, as the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.
The cops were stopped at a red light on the Champs Elysee - a bustling boulevard popular with tourists and famed for its luxury stores and eateries - when the gunman drove up at around 9 pm, pulled out an "automatic weapon" and opened fire, according to a government spokesman. The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack.
And the pseudonym, Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, indicated that the attacker already had ties of some sort to Islamic State extremists.
A gunman jumped out of a auto, killed a police officer and wounded two others on the Champs-Elysees in central Paris. She said he appeared to be acting alone.
Police and soldiers sealed off the area, ordering tourists back into their hotels and blocking people from approaching the scene.
French police put the area under lock-down as the Paris prosecutor's office began a terrorism investigation.
Security has been high in France leading up to the first round of hotly contested presidential elections Sunday.
Reuters reports at least two shooters were involved in the attack, with at least one of them shot dead.
A police union Twitter account said the officers were shot while in a vehicle stopped at a red light.
"They were running, running", said 55-year-old Badi Ftaïti, who lives in the area.
In a televised statement from the presidential palace, not far from where the shooting occurred, Mr Hollande said French authorities were "convinced" that the shooting pointed to a terrorist attack.
French President Francois Hollande has scheduled an emergency meeting following shootings of officers. "There were tens, maybe even hundreds of them".
Paris police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert told AP the attacker targeted police guarding the area near the Franklin Roosevelt subway station.
A witness identified only as Ines told French television station BFM that she heard a shooting and saw a man's body on the ground before police quickly evacuated the area where she works in a shop. Belgian authorities said they had no information about the suspect.
The famous wide street that leads away from the Arc de Triomphe that had earlier been crowded with Parisians and tourists enjoying a spring evening remained closed off hours after the incident.
France has lived under a state of emergency since 2015 and has suffered a spate of Islamist militant attacks, mostly perpetrated by young men who grew up in France and Belgium, and that have killed more than 230 people in the past two years.