Car Rams Police Van on Paris’ Champs Elysees, Driver Dead
Car Rams Police Van on Paris’ Champs Elysees, Driver Dead

PARIS—A driver rammed a car carrying weapons and explosives into a police van as it drove down Paris‘ Champs Elysees avenue on Monday, officials said, adding that the man died in the incident and the situation was under control.

The car hit the front of the van as it was overtaking a convoy of police vehicles, a police spokeswoman said. Footage recorded shortly afterwards showed orange smoke billowing from the car.

France has been on high security alert following a series of radical Islamic terrorist attacks in recent years, including the shooting of a policeman in an ISIS-claimed attack on a police bus on the Champs Elysees in April.

The Paris prosecutor’s counter-terrorism unit said an investigation had been opened into the incident only a short walk away from the Elysee presidential palace and the U.S. embassy. No bystanders or police were hurt. It was not clear how the driver of the car had died.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the man’s car was carrying weapons and explosives that could have caused a blast.

French police secure the area on the Champs Elysees avenue after an incident in Paris, France, June 19, 2017. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
French police secure the area on the Champs Elysees avenue after an incident in Paris, France, June 19, 2017. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

“This once again shows that the threat level in France is extremely high,” Collomb told journalists not far from the scene.

A police source told Reuters that the man was known to security services.

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 radical Islamic gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in and around Paris in November 2015.

Some magistrates and human rights groups have protested in recent weeks against the proposal that would enshrine in ordinary law measures currently in place under the state of emergency.

French police officers engage with a suspect outside a car at the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France June 19, 2017 in this still image obtained from social media. (EUGENIO MORCILLO via REUTERS)
French police officers engage with a suspect outside a car at the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France June 19, 2017 in this still image obtained from social media. (EUGENIO MORCILLO via REUTERS)

Members of the scientific police inspect a burned car at the scene of an incident in which a car rammed a gendarmerie van on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris, France, June 19, 2017.  REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
Members of the scientific police inspect a burned car at the scene of an incident in which a car rammed a gendarmerie van on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris, France, June 19, 2017. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

A French gendarme runs past a car on the Champs Elysees avenue after an incident in Paris, France, June 19, 2017.   REUTERS/Charles Platiau
A French gendarme runs past a car on the Champs Elysees avenue after an incident in Paris, France, June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

A member of the scientific police inspects a burned car at the scene of an incident in which a car rammed a gendarmerie van on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris, France, June 19, 2017.  REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
A member of the scientific police inspects a burned car at the scene of an incident in which a car rammed a gendarmerie van on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris, France, June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

French police officers engage with a suspect outside a car at the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France June 19, 2017 in this still image obtained from social media. EUGENIO MORCILLO via REUTERS
French police officers engage with a suspect outside a car at the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France June 19, 2017 in this still image obtained from social media. (EUGENIO MORCILLO via REUTERS)

A burned car is seen on the Champs Elysees avenue after an incident in Paris, France, June 19, 2017.   REUTERS/Charles Platiau
A burned car is seen on the Champs Elysees avenue after an incident in Paris, France, June 19, 2017. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

French policemen secure the area around a burned car on the Champs Elysees avenue after an incident in Paris, France, June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
French policemen secure the area around a burned car on the Champs Elysees avenue after an incident in Paris, France, June 19, 2017. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander and Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Andrew Callus and Ralph Boulton

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