Paris shooting casts shadow over final day of French election campaign

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[CNN] – A deadly attack on a police bus in the heart of Paris cast the shadow of terror over the final days of the French presidential election campaign.

One police officer died after a gunman wielding a machine gun leapt out of a car and opened fire on the Champs-Elysees, Paris’s most famous boulevard, as candidates were engaging in their final TV debate.

The attack dramatically changed the course of the campaign’s final hours: the three main candidates canceled campaign events and instead made televised statements in which they competed to talk tough on security and vowed a crackdown on ISIS.
The far-right candidate, Marine le Pen, demanded the closure of all Islamist mosques. The Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, accused her of trying to capitalize on the attack.
ISIS swiftly claimed the attack was carried out by one of its “fighters”. The assailant — a French national with a long criminal record — was shot dead as he tried to make his escape. French media reported that he was recently the subject of a counterterrorism investigation.

Election in turmoil

Fillon, Le Pen and independent centrist Emmanuel Macron canceled planned campaign events after the shooting. Under French election rules, Friday was due to be the final day of campaigning before Sunday’s first round of voting.

A forensic team investigates the scene where an attacker opened fire on police with an automatic weapon.
It was unclear whether the attack would tip the balance of the vote in favor of Le Pen, who has vowed to take a tough line on “Islamic terrorism.”
At a televised news conference Friday, Le Pen called for the closure of all “Islamist” mosques in France, the expulsion of hate preachers and the reinstatement of French borders.
People on the French security services’ watch list for radicalization should also be expelled from France and have their French citizenship revoked, she said.

Cazeneuve accused Le Pen of trying to capitalize on the attack. “The candidate of the Front National, like every drama, seeks to profit from and to control the situation to divide. She seeks to benefit from fear for exclusively political ends, the Prime Minister said in a televised address.
Fillon said that if elected, his foreign policy priority would be the destruction of ISIS. He also called for the creation of 10,000 more police posts.
“In times such as these we have to demonstrate that France is united,” he said. “We also have to be clear that we are in a state of emergency. We are at war. This fight for freedom and for the security of the French people must be the priority of the next five-year term.”
Cazeneuve, however, questioned Fillon’s position on security, saying that when he previously served as Prime Minister he had cut thousands of security force jobs.
Macron appealed to voters not to succumb to fear. “Do not give in to fear, do not give in to division, do not give in to intimidation,” he said. “The choice that you have to make on Sunday must be a choice for the future.”
Macron said he would hire an additional 10,000 police officers in the next five years and that he would create a task force under the French Presidency to fight ISIS.