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Paris attack looms over French presidential elections

  • Video report by ITV News Europe Correspondent James Mates

The aftershocks of the shooting central Paris reverberated around France as the country prepares to go to the polls in just two days.

Candidates declared campaigning at an end for the upcoming presidential election after the attack on Thursday night.

But National Front candidate Marine Le Pen sought to make political capital of the shooting in a country on high alert after numerous terrorist attacks.

She laid the blame on the government's weakness in the face of Islamic extremists, earning a strict rebuke from Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

First-round voting is set to begin on Sunday morning - and no opinion polls showing what impact, if any, the shooting had will be published before then.

Paris killer 'was a loner with few interests'

Karim Cheurfi's former lawyer said the killer was 'extremely isolated'. Credit: AP

The Paris gunman Karim Cheurfi was a loner with few interests in life, his former lawyer has said.

Jean-Laurent Panier described Cheurfi as an "extremely isolated" individual who passed near unnoticed while in detention in comments to BFM-TV.

Despite reports that the gunman may have been inspired by radical Islamist terrorists, Mr Panier said his client never discussed religion.

"His only conversations were about how to fill his daily life with video games," he said.

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Paris gunman carried note expressing support for IS

Karim Cheurfi Credit: PA

The attacker in the Paris shootings was named as Karim Cheurfi by Paris prosecutor who said he carried a note expressing support for so-called IS during the attack.

French officials confirmed the identity of the gunman as well as reports that a note defending the terror group was found near his body after he was shot dead in a return of fire.

Police officer killed by Paris gunman is named

Xavier Jugele had previously responded to the terror attack on the Bataclan. Credit: Flag! / AP

The policeman shot dead in by a gunman in central Paris last night has been named as Xavier Jugele by a French policing group.

The Flag! organisation of LGBT officers said that Mr Jugele would have turned 38 in May.

It also emerged that the officer was among those who responded to the deadly terror attack at the Bataclan concert venue in November 2015.

Mr Jugele attended the high-profile re-opening of the venue a year on, telling People magazine he had attended to "to defend our civic values".

He added: "This concert's to celebrate life. To say 'No' to terrorists."

Local man believed to be 'coward' gunman in Paris attack

French President François Hollande has condemned what he called the "cowardly killing" of a policeman on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

The gunman - who was shot dead by security forces - has yet to be formally identified but is believed to be a local man.

Two other officers were also injured as one of the world's most iconic boulevards became a scene of terror just two days before one of the most tightly fought presidential elections in decades.

Presidential candidate François Fillon pledged to keep the country under a state of emergency while far-right rival Marine Le Pen called on the government to restore France's borders following the latest attack.

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Trump: Shooting will have 'big effect' on French vote

Mr Trump tweeted about the attack Credit: AP

Donald Trump has said the shooting in Paris will have a "big effect" on France's upcoming presidential election.

The US president tweeted: "Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!"

In the wake of the shooting the French government has pulled out all the stops to protect Sunday's vote as the attack deepened France's political divide.

"Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country," French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

Note defending IS 'found next to body of Paris attacker'

Flowers have been placed on the Champs-Elysees in memory of the slain police officer. Credit: AP

A written note defending the so-called Islamic State was found next to the body of the gunman killed after he shot dead a police officer in Paris, Reuters has reported, citing a judicial source.

The hardline militant group has said it directed the attack, which also wounded two other police officers.

Paris gunman 'detained in February for threatening police'

Police at the scene of the shootings on Thursday. Credit: AP

Two French officials have said that the Champs-Elysees gunman was detained in February for threatening police.

The officials - who spoke on the condition of anonymity - said the gunman was detained at the end of the month after speaking threateningly about the police, but later released due to a lack of evidence.

They also reported he was convicted of attempted homicide in 2003 in shootings on two police officers.

A man believed to be the principal attacker was shot dead at the scene, after a police officer was killed and two others seriously wounded.

A second man wanted in connection to the attack is reported to have handed himself into police.

The attack comes just days before France's presidential elections.

Belgian minister: Paris gunman was French national

The gunman was killed after a shooting in which an officer was killed and two others injured. Credit: AP

The gunman killed in a suspected terror shooting on the Champs-Élysées in Paris was a French national, Belgian's interior minister has told the nation's public broadcaster VRT.

"The investigation is continuing. What we can confirm is that the perpetrator was a French national," Jan Jambon said.

Islamic State militants, who had claimed being behind the attack in which a French policeman was shot dead, had named the attacker as Abu Yousif al-Belgiki.

The naming - via its Amaq news agency - translates as "the Belgian" in Arabic.

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