Car with explosives rams into police van in Paris, driver dies: minister

Updated 2017-06-20 08:52:48 Xinhua
Police officers patrol near the Champs-Elysees avenue on June 19, 2017 in Paris, France. A car rammed into a police van Monday on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris before bursting into flames, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said. (Xinhua/Li Genxing)

Police officers patrol near the Champs-Elysees avenue on June 19, 2017 in Paris, France. A car rammed into a police van Monday on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris before bursting into flames, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said. (Xinhua/Li Genxing)

A car rammed into a police van Monday on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris before bursting into flames, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said.

Collomb said the driver died when the car exploded, noting that weapons and explosives have been found in the car.

"Once again our security forces have been targeted. The threat is extremely high," Collomb said on Twitter.

At 15:40 local time (1340 GMT), a man with his vehicle crashed into police van near the presidential Palace. His car had caught fire due to a gas cylinder on board which likely triggered the fire, according to BFMTV news channel.

The 31-year-old driver was armed and has been already on police radar, it added.

Speaking to reporters, interior ministry's spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the incident "seems to be a voluntary act".

On Twitter, Paris prefecture wrote "situation under control". But, it called Parisians to avoid the area which is cordoned off.

No casualties have been reported into the incident, it added. Paris prosecutor's anti-terrorism section had opened an investigation into the incident.

The Champs Elysee attack came a few days after a PhD student on media tried to attack police officers with a hammer outside Notre Dame Cathedral in the French capital in an act to revenge war in Syria.

Under pressure to muscle security at home and forge an effective action plan against alarming terror risks, President Emmanuel Macron decided to create the National Center for Counter Terrorism, a new body including all the country's intelligences services to better coordinate response to eventual terror risk.

Adding to that, he is seeking further extension of the state of emergency, beyond its normal term in July 2017.

France remains in a state of emergency and on high alert over possible terrorist attacks due to its military intervention in Syria, Iraq and the Sahel region.

It imposed emergency security rules in the wake of the 2015 attacks which killed 130 people. It also deployed 10,000 of gendarmes and police units to protect public places and sensitive site

However, several more attacks have occurred since, with the bloodiest on Bastille Day last year in Nice where a man drove his truck into a crowd, killing 86 people.

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