A man on the radar of French authorities was killed Monday after ramming a auto carrying explosives into a police vehicle in the capital's Champs-Elysees shopping district, prompting a fiery blast, officials said.
The incident, which took place at 3:40 p.m. local time (9:40 a.m. ET), began when a police squadron drove down the Champs-Elysses and an individual hit the first vehicle of the squad.
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that the man was detained by members of the public at the scene of the attack early Monday, and added a residential area in Cardiff, Wales, was also being searched.
Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the vehicle, a white Renault Megane, caught fire.
"This once again shows that the threat level in France is extremely high", Collomb told journalists not far from the scene.
Two police officials told The Associated Press that a handgun was found on the driver, who they said was badly burned after the vehicle exploded.
No police or bystanders were injured in the incident, which occurred near the Grand Palais exhibition hall. Twitter users initially reported being evacuated and seeing a auto on fire.
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The Paris prosecutor's counterterrorism unit said an investigation had been opened into the Paris incident a short walk from the Elysee presidential palace and the U.S. Embassy.
Police issued ongoing updates on Twitter warning people to avoid the area.
And just hours before the Champs-Élysées incident, in another suspected terrorist attack, a driver rammed a van into pedestrians exiting a mosque in north London, killing at least one person.
Scientific police officers investigate on the suspected vehicle, right, after a man rammed into a police convoy on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, Monday, June 19, 2017. The man, Karim Cheurfi, had a note in his pocket claiming allegiance to the Islamic State.
- Last month, a man attacked an officer with a hammer at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, proclaiming, "This is for Syria", Collomb said.
No one else was injured in the Monday afternoon attack, despite the crowds strolling France's most famous avenue on a hot, sunny day. France's interior minister says the attempted attack on security forces on the Champs-Elysees shows the threat is still very high in the country and justifies the state of emergency.
Collomb said he would present a bill at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday to extend the state of emergency from July 15, its current expiration date, until November 1.