Car rams police van on Paris' Champs Elysees, driver dead


UPDATE 5-Car rams police van on Paris' Champs Elysees, driver dead

* Eyewitness sees man pulled from car
    * Driver was known to security services
    * Car carried weapons and explosives

 (Updates with eyewitness)
    By Johnny Cotton and Michel RosePARIS, June 19 (Reuters) - A man deliberately rammed a car
carrying weapons and explosives into a police van as it drove in
a convoy down Paris's Champs Elysees avenue on Monday, officials
    The man, who was known to French security services, died in
the incident and the Paris prosecutor's counter-terrorism unit
said it had opened an investigation.
    It was unclear how the man, who was not named, had died.
Nobody else was hurt.
    Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the car had been
carrying weapons and explosives. "This once again shows that the
threat level in France is extremely high," Collomb told
journalists near the scene.
    France has been on high security alert following a series of
militant Islamist attacks, including the shooting of a policeman
in an Islamic State-claimed attack on a police bus on the Champs
Elysees, one of the world's most famous thoroughfares, in April.
    Eighty-six people died in a truck attack on a crowd in Nice
last year and similar incidents have occurred in other European
    The incident in Paris came hours after a van ploughed into
Muslim worshippers near a mosque in London, injuring 10 people.
    In the Paris incident, eyewitnesses saw the man being pulled
from the car as it burned, and footage on the Daily Mail web
site later showed an officer stripping clothes from the body.
    The car struck the front of the van as it overtook a convoy
of police vehicles, a police spokeswoman said. Footage recorded
shortly afterwards at the site, a short walk from the Elysee
presidential palace and the U.S. embassy, showed yellow smoke
billowing from the car.
    "We saw big flames coming out of the front windows of the
car," 16-year-old eyewitness Adrien Cairo told Reuters.
    "Then suddenly we saw four policemen arrive, they knocked on
the window, they said 'Sir, are you alright? Can you hear us?'
    He said police broke the window and pulled the man from the
car while other police used fire extinguishers to put out the
    President Emmanuel Macron said last month his government
would ask parliament to extend wider search and arrest powers
granted under a state of emergency called after Islamist gunmen
and suicide bombers killed 130 people in and around Paris in
November 2015.
    Some magistrates and human rights groups have protested
against the proposal that would enshrine in ordinary law
measures currently in place under the state of emergency.

 (Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander and Emmanuel Jarry;
Writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
 ((andrew.callus.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.com; +33)(0)(1 49 49
51 30 ; Reuters Messaging:


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