World Bulletin / News Desk
One police officer was killed and another wounded Thursday in a shooting on Paris's Champs Elysees, police said, just days ahead of France's presidential election.
The famous shopping street in the heart of the city, which is usually teaming with tourists and Parisians, was blocked by armed police and metro stations in the area were closed.
Dozens of vehicles from the emergency services were sent to the area.
The shooting comes just two days after police arrested two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the first-round of the presidential election on Sunday.
France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed over 230 people.
Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to guard tourist hotspots such as the Champs Elysees or other potential targets like government buildings and religious sites.
Up until now, polls showed voters more concerned about unemployment and their spending power than terrorism or security, though analysts warned this would change in the event of further bloodshed.
For weeks, centrist former banker Macron and National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen have been out in front but opinion polls now show there is a chance that any of the four leading candidates could reach the second-round runoff on May 7.
Scandal-plagued conservative Francois Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have closed the gap substantially in the last two weeks.
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"Trump not welcome" said banners waved by the crowd, which police said numbered around 9,000. Organisers put the size of the demonstration at 12,000.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had demanded the sacking of Andrej Babis, the billionaire founder of the sprawling Agrofert conglomerate, accusing him of tax evasion and multiple conflicts of interest.
Attorney general Luisa Ortega said in a public speech that 55 people have been killed so far in the unrest: 52 civilians and three police.
Corruption was widespread under longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted in a 2011 uprising, and has remained endemic since.
Rudd complained to the US Department of Homeland Security and other intelligence branches about leaks to US media of details of the probe into the deadly Monday attack and the bomber's identity that had not yet been made public.
"They are implicated in affairs of corruption and suspected of plotting against state security through incitement and alleged financing of the protest movements in Tataouine and other regions," he said.
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Security services believe the suspected bomber, Salman Abedi, was likely to have had help from others in staging the attack that killed 22 people including a girl aged just eight.
"There's a critical situation today. About 200 people fell into the water," a coastguard spokesman told AFP, while a humanitarian worker at the scene said 31 bodies had been recovered.
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