PARIS — Two days before the start of men’s shows here, a man crashed his car into a police van on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, rattling further a city that’s already long been on edge.
No police or members of the public were hurt on Europe’s most expensive retail thoroughfare on Paris’ Right Bank as a result of the occurrence that took place at about 3:40 p.m. local time. However, the police using Twitter cautioned people to avoid the area.
The zone around the Théâtre Marigny, near the Rond Point des Champs-Élysées, was evacuated. And traffic was snarled for hours in Paris as the entire avenue – home to stores such as Zara, Levi’s, Sephora, Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton – and surrounding streets were shut to traffic. Meanwhile, the metro stations lining it were closed.
The perpetrator’s car contained arms and explosives, according to Gérard Collomb, France’s Minister of the Interior, speaking to journalists during a televised interview. He said that the attacker has died and an inquiry opened by the antiterrorism branch of Paris’ public prosecutors’ office.
“It shows once more that the level of threat in France is extremely high,” said Collomb.
The incident marks the fifth time in four months that security forces were targeted in Paris and came just hours after a car attack took place outside a mosque in London’s Finsbury Park neighborhood early Monday morning. That occurrence left one person dead and at least 10 wounded. U.K. police are investigating the incident as terrorism.
Recently, lone attackers have targeted the French capital’s major tourist attractions. In early June, a man was shot after trying to attack a policeman with a hammer outside Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. A policeman was killed on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in April, while in February, a man wielding knives lunged at soldiers patrolling the Louvre museum before being shot and injured.
Monday’s occurrence came just a day after France held its second round of legislative elections.
France has been in a state of emergency since the terror attacks of Nov. 13, 2015, in which gunmen killed 130 people in a series of coordinated attacks in Paris.