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1ST LEAD French presidential hopefuls vow tough action after Paris attack By Pol O Gradaigh and Sebastian Kunigkeit, dpa

Europe
21.04.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Paris (dpa) - France‘s presidential candidates vowed tough action against terrorism after a fatal shooting on the Champs-Elysees claimed by Islamic State, while the prime minister pledged that nothing would hamper the first round of voting on Sunday.

On Thursday, a man pulled up beside a police vehicle on the central Paris avenue and opened fire, killing one of the officers. The gunman tried to flee on foot, still shooting, and injured two officers before being shot dead.

Newspaper Le Monde reported the attacker was a 39-year-old French citizen with a long criminal record - including a previous shooting attack on police for which he had been jailed in 2005.

A second policeman seriously injured in the shooting was out of danger, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

"Nothing must hamper this democratic moment which is fundamental for our nation," Cazeneuve said after a meeting of the defence and national security council, calling for national unity.

"We must not give in to fear, intimidation, or manipulation. That is what the enemies of the republic hope for," Cazeneuve added.

US President Donald Trump weighed in on the attack and the political turmoil in France, tweeting on Friday: "Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!"

Security measures for Sunday‘s election include the deployment of some 50,000 police officers and gendarmes, with special intervention units on stand-by, Cazeneuve assured.

Conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen promised to crack down on all forms of Islamism, and not just jihadism.

Le Pen accused outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande and his right-wing predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy of having "done everything to lose" the fight against terrorism.

She repeated her call for all persons under security surveillance for suspected militant links to be either deported or put on trial.

Earlier, a source close to the investigation said three family members of the suspect were arrested.

Fillon meanwhile said he would "fight with an iron fist," expelling any foreign Islamists - not just jihadists - and dissolve Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood movements.

Fillon, seen as friendly towards Russia, promised he would "take the diplomatic initiative, from Washington to Moscow" to promote an international alliance against "Islamist terrorism."

Centrist Emmanuel Macron, who is neck-and-neck with Le Pen in the polls ahead of Sunday‘s vote, instead stressed the optimistic, pro-European approach that has been a hallmark of his campaign.

"The choice you have to make on Sunday must be a choice for the future," he said, while vowing to be "implacable" against terrorism.

"Our generation must take up this challenge," Macron said, "by building a future around a progressive project, by re-establishing a Europe that protects people ... in the face of the terrorist threat and in the face of a changing world."

Cazeneuve sharply rebuked Le Pen and Fillon for their responses to the Champs-Elysees shooting.

Le Pen, in her call for hardline legislation against extremists, "forgot to tell the French people that her party has voted against every anti-terror law" proposed by the government, Cazeneuve charged.

The National Front leader is "trying to profit [from the attack] and instrumentalize it in order to create division," the premier said.

Cazeneuve also took aim at Fillon, saying his promise to employ 10,000 new police officers was not credible because he cut police numbers by 13,000 while serving as premier between 2007 and 2012.

The European Commission added its voice to condemnations of the attack.

"Europe is determined to continue its fight against terrorism, we will defend together a democratic and open Europe but that is intransigent as regards security," Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said.

The German Foreign Ministry said that a German women also had been seriously injured in the attack but was now in a stable condition.

 

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