April 20 (UPI) — Authorities in west Paris are on the scene of a shooting that left at least two people dead Thursday — the gunman and a city police officer, according to officials.
The gunfire started Thursday night on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the area was evacuated, authorities said, and at least one other officer was wounded.
Details of the shooting weren’t immediately clear, but witnesses said they heard a burst of gunfire on the iconic Paris street. It wasn’t known whether any civilians had been hurt.
France’s Prefecture National Police advised people to stay clear of the area, which is located on the western flank of Paris.
Witnesses said the gunman used an AK-47-type rifle in the attack.
“We heard shooting and everyone ran in panic. People were crying,” one witness told France’s The Local.
Thursday’s incident was the second time this year a police officer was shot on the Champs-Élysées.
“At first we thought it was firecrackers but then we realized it was a shooting and everyone ran in panic. People were crying,” one witness told French television.
“The area was cleared really quickly.”
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a popular shopping and tourist district in Paris near the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower.
Officials weren’t immediately certain whether the shooting was terror-related.
“It is happening again,” he continued. “It is a very, very terrible thing that’s going on in the world today but it looks like another terrorist attack. What can you say? It just never ends. We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant — and I have been saying it for a long time.”
Paris has been on high alert for months out of concern the city may again be targeted by militants. More than 100 people were killed in a coordinated attack in November 2015. A dozen people were killed ten months earlier in an attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Tuesday, two men were arrested in Marseille on suspicion of plotting various attacks in France.
“If you’re in Paris, monitor local news. Champs-Elysées has been closed. Authorities are telling people to avoid the area after a shooting,” the U.S. Department of State said in a tweet.