France tries to pick itself up for presidential election after Champs-Elysees attack


The Champs-Elysees gunman who shot and killed a police officer just days before France’s presidential election was detained in February for threatening police but then freed, two officials told The Associated Press on Friday. He was also convicted in 2003 of attempted homicide in the shootings of two police officers.

The French government 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,” Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after a high-level meeting Friday that reviewed the government’s already heightened security plans for the two-round vote that begins Sunday.

“Barbarity and cowardice struck Paris last night,” the prime minister said, appealing for national unity and for people “not to succumb to fear.”

Investigators believe at this stage that the gunman, 39-year-old Frenchman Karim Cheurfi, was alone in killing a police officer and wounding two others and a German tourist on Thursday night, less than 72 hours before the polls open, a French official who discussed details of the investigation with the AP said on condition of anonymity.

Sylvie Corbet, Angela Charlton and Raphael Satter in Paris, Jeff Schaeffer and Nadine Achoui-Lesage in Chelles, France, and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this report



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