A car loaded with gas canisters rammed into a police van on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on Monday, leaving the driver dead in what the interior minister said was an “attempted attack”.
Police sources said that a Kalashnikov rifle, handguns and gas bottles were found in the white Renault Megane. “Security forces have been targeted in France once again,” interior minister Gerard Collomb said, calling the incident an “attempted attack”.
The weapons and explosives found in the vehicle “could potentially blow this car up,” he added. Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said bomb disposal experts were on the scene to “ensure the vehicle poses no further danger.” Video showed orange smoke pouring from the car after the impact.
No police or bystanders were injured in the incident near the Grand Palais exhibition hall. “People were running every which way,” said a 51-year-old bystander who gave his name only as Alexandre. “Some shouted at me to get away.”
Anti-terrorism prosecutors have opened an investigation. The incident came just two months after a policeman was shot and killed on the avenue, days before the first round of France’s presidential election.