Searches underway in attack on Paris police


PARIS — The Latest on the shootings of two police officers in Paris (all times local):

12:40 a.m. France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor says that searches are under way after an attack on police guarding the Champs-Elysees shopping district in Paris. Prosecutor Francois Molins said that investigators have verified the identity of the gunman in Thursday night’s attack and are trying to determine whether he had accomplices. The identity was not released. Three police officials say at least one location in the eastern Paris suburbs was being searched early Friday. One police officer and the attacker were killed in the incident. ___

12:00 a.m. France’s presidential candidates have expressed their solidarity with police forces following the shootings of three officers in Paris. The 11 candidates were appearing on a television program ahead of the first round of voting in the two-part election when the attack that left one officer dead happened Thursday night. Conservative contender Francois Fillon said on France 2 television he was canceling his planned campaign stops on Friday. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen took to Twitter to offer her sympathy for law enforcement officers “once again targeted.” Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron offered his thoughts to the family of the dead officer. Socialist Benoit Hamon tweeted his “full support” to police against terrorism. The first round of the presidential race is scheduled on Sunday. The two top contenders will advance to a runoff on May 7. ___

11:45 p.m. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the shooting on Paris’ Champs Elysees that killed a police officer and left two others gravely wounded. In a statement from its Amaq news agency, the group gave a pseudonym for the shooter indicating he was Belgian. The attacker opened fire on a police van on the avenue before being killed. The claim of responsibility came unusually swiftly for the group, which has been losing territory in Iraq and Syria. And the pseudonym, Abu Yusuf al-Beljiki, indicated that the attacker already had ties of some sort to Islamic State extremists. ___

11:25 p.m. French President Francois Hollande says he is convinced the circumstances surrounding the attack on Paris police officers points to a terrorist act. Hollande said after one officer was killed and two others seriously wounded on the grand Champs-Elysees boulevard Thursday night he is “convinced” the investigation indicates terrorism. He did not elaborate. Hollande says has convened a National Defense and Security Council to meet on Friday morning. The council consists of top security, police and military officials and several members of government. ___

11:10 p.m. A French government spokesman says the assailant who opened fire on a Paris police van was armed with an automatic firearm akin to a “war weapon.” Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said no tourists or pedestrians were injured during the Thursday night attack that left one officer dead and two seriously wounded. Police say the attacker was shot dead by an officer or officers. Brandet refused to give any specific detail about the suspect’s possible criminal history or affiliations. He says the assailant’s identity has not been formally confirmed . Brandet says while witnesses have described only one gunman, the possibility of accomplices can’t be ruled out.