A suspect who tried to attack security forces on the Champs-Elysees shopping district in Paris Monday afternoon — when he rammed his car into a police van — had a rifle and explosives in his vehicle, French investigators said.
The attacker died shortly after the incident, the French interior minister said. The attacker, a 33-year-old man, was badly burned after his car exploded when he deliberately crashed it into a police van. The police van caught fire, but it was quickly contained, officials said. The bomb squad was called to the scene.
Authorities discovered a gas tank and an AK-47 rife in the attacker’s car, Fox News confirmed. The man was known by police and was under surveillance, Pierre-Henry Brandet, a spokesman for the interior ministry, told Fox News.
Eric Favereau, a journalist for Liberation newspaper who was driving a scooter behind the officers, said he saw a car blocking the convoy’s path, then an implosion in the vehicle. Favereau wrote that the officers smashed open the windows of the car while it was in flames and dragged out its occupant.
Other officers used fire extinguishers to put out the flames, Favereau said.
The driver was detained, but French security officials said the individual is “most probably” dead after he was badly burned.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation into the incident.
There were no other reported injuries.
France is under a state of emergency after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks. An attacker defending the Islamic State terror group shot and killed a police officer on the Champs-Elysees in April, days before a presidential election, prompting an extensive security operation.
The incident also came after a van mowed down several people leaving a London mosque just after midnight on Monday. One person died and 10 people were injured in the assault.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.