A man carrying guns and explosives died when he rammed a car into a police van Monday on Paris’ famed Champs-Élysées in what officials characterize as a deliberate attack.
But upon collision, the car — and not the van — burst into flames, NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris. The man died even though police were able to extricate him from the burning car.
No officers or bystanders were hurt.
It’s not clear what led the man to ram the van. But French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb called it an “attempted attack” on security forces, and France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation.
Police tell The Associated Press that the suspect is from a suburb of Paris and had been “flagged for links to extremism.” He is said to be in his early 30s.
Guns — including a Kalashnikov — as well as bottles containing gasoline were found in the car, according to French media.
Collomb said Monday’s incident shows that France remains at high risk of a terrorist attack.
It also marks the second time this year that Paris’ most famous avenue, renowned for its shopping, dining and monuments, has been the scene of bloodshed. As The Two-Way has reported, a man opened fire on police in April killing one officer and wounding two others. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack.
Last summer, on Bastille Day, ISIS “soldier” Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a cargo truck through the crowds on a promenade in Nice, mowing down and killing 84 people and injured hundreds of others before police shot him dead.
And just hours before the Champs-Élysées incident, in another suspected terrorist attack, a driver rammed a van into pedestrians exiting a mosque in north London, killing at least one person.