The French government pulled out all the stops to protect Sunday’s vote as the attack deepened
“Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country,” Prime Minister
“Barbarity and cowardice struck
Investigators believe at this stage that the gunman, 39-year-old Frenchman Karim Cheurfi, was alone in killing one police officer and wounding two others and a female German tourist on Thursday night, a French official who discussed details of the investigation with the AP said on condition of anonymity.
The attack came less than 72 hours before the polls open.
Police shot and killed Cheurfi after he opened fire on a police van on
Cheurfi had been detained toward the end of February after speaking threateningly about police but was then released for lack of evidence, according to that French official and another, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the probe.
The policeman killed Thursday was identified as Xavier Jugele by Flag!, a French association of LGBT police officers. Its president, Mickael Bucheron, told AP the slain officer would have celebrated his 38th birthday at the beginning of May.
Jugele was among the officers who responded to the gun-and-bomb attack on
He was also there a year later when the venue reopened with a concert by
“This concert’s to celebrate life. To say ‘No’ to terrorists,” the media outlet quoted Jugele as saying.
Municipal workers in white hygiene suits were out before dawn to wash down the sidewalk where the assault took place — a scene now depressingly familiar after multiple attacks that have killed more than 230 people in
A key question was how the attack might affect French voters, since campaigning is banned starting Friday at midnight.
Inserting himself into the debate,
The two top finishers Sunday advance to a winner-takes-all presidential runoff on
The attack brought back the recurrent campaign theme of
Le Pen, speaking at her campaign headquarters, urged the outgoing Socialist government to immediately re-establish border controls. Cazeneuve, the Socialist prime minister, accused the
After Le Pen spoke scathingly Friday of the government’s fight against extremism, Cazeneuve noted that Le Pen’s party in 2014 voted against an anti-terrorism law and, in 2015, against a law that beefed up resources for French intelligence services.
He said: “She seems to be deliberately forgetting everything that has been done over five years to make people forget that she opposed everything, without ever proposing anything serious or credible.”
Fillon, for his part, pledged to maintain the state of emergency that has been in place since the
“The fight for the French people’s freedom and security will be mine. This must be the priority,” he said.
Asked if the assault would impact voting, the centrist Macron said “no one knows” and appealed for cool heads.
“What our attackers want is death, symbolism, to sow panic (and) to disturb a democratic process,” the 39-year-old former investment banker said.
Macron said he canceled campaign stops out of a sense of “decency” and to allow police to concentrate resources on the investigation. Said by polls to be running neck-and-neck with Le Pen, he tore into her claims that previous attacks wouldn’t have happened under her watch.
“She won’t be able to protect our citizens,” Macron said.
The two police officers injured in the attack are out of danger,
Investigators searched a home early Friday in an eastern suburb of
The attack appeared to fit a pattern of European extremists targeting security forces and symbols of state to discredit, take vengeance on or destabilize society. It recalled two recent attacks on French soldiers providing security at prominent locations around
For Sunday’s presidential vote, the government is mobilizing more than 50,000 police and gendarmes to protect the 70,000 polling stations, with an additional 7,000 soldiers also on patrol.