The Champs-Élysées could very well be the most famous avenue in Paris, even in all France. The French themselves would describe it as “the world’s most beautiful”. It runs between the Place de Concorde and the Place Charles De Gaulle, where the equally world-famous Arc de Triomphe is situated. Important events of the country are commemorated along the Champs-Élysées ranging from the patriotic Bastille Day Parade to the finishing stretch of the Tour de France. Lined with luxury shops, restaurants and theatres, it’s also a center of Parisian social life.
But there’s also a darker side to the Champs-Élysées, especially during the evenings. Several violent crimes have taken place along its sidewalks in past year, and that specter has risen anew just this Thursday, with an armed attack that left dead and injured in its wake, and credited to by the world’s most notorious terror group.
FOX News reports that on 8:50 PM (local time) late on the evening of April 20, a lone gunman shot at the nighttime crowd on the Champs-Élysées, wounding two and killing one responding police officer before he was shot dead himself. An investigation by French prosecutors led by Francois Molins have discerned the identity of the attacker, but have yet to disclose his name to the public while further details, such as whether or not he had accomplices, is still being examined. All that has been disclosed thus far was that the slain assailant had been armed with an assault rifle, which itself has led detectives to search a certain address in the eastern suburbs of Paris for further clues.
Meanwhile, the dread terror group ISIS has released a new statement through its online news agency Amaq, disclosing the gunman’s name as one Abu Yousef Al-Baljiki, nicknamed “The Belgian,” and described him as a “fighter of the Islamic State”. The claim of responsibility has been made rather quickly, although the wording has been taken note of, in that the assailant, if he was indeed Al-Baljiki, was called “fighter” instead of “soldier”, the blanket term ISIS uses for any lone or small group of terrorist gunmen staging random attacks in populated areas all over the world. Johanna Primevert, speaking for the Parisian police, related that the attacker primarily shot at police officers guarding the Franklin Roosevelt subway station in the rough middle portion of the Champs-Élysées, which is a popular gathering spot of tourists.
For his part French President Francois Hollande has determined the Paris shooting incident to be another terrorist act against his nation during a televised address regarding the incident. He also assured the public that the police will remain on the utmost vigilance especially with the coming national elections. All casualties of the shooting were non-civilians according to Interior Ministry spokesperson Pierre-Henry Brandet, saying that no pedestrians or tourists have been endangered.
Photo courtesy of ABC News