A man has rammed his car into a police vehicle in central Paris, prompting a fiery explosion in what French security officials described as “a deliberate act.”
French police said the incident occurred on Monday when the driver hit a police van before bursting into flames on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in the center of the capital, adding that no officers or pedestrians were injured and that the situation was under control.
Police found a Kalashnikov rifle, handguns and gas bottles in the car.
Security forces in Paris cleared the area and cordoned off the avenue, closing two nearby metro stations. Police warned people to avoid the area, which is popular with tourists.
The counter-terrorism unit of the prosecutor's office in Paris has launched an investigation into the incident, which took place close to the presidential palace and the US embassy.
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the driver of the car that plowed into the police convoy was "dead," adding that the incident had been "an attempted attack."
The Monday incident was the second major attack on Champs-Elysees Avenue this year as an attacker supporting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group shot and killed a police officer on the most famous avenue in Paris in April, days before the first round of the French presidential election.
France is still under a state of emergency due to recurrent terrorist threats. More than 120 people were killed in a matter of one night in November 2015, when attackers carried out shootings and explosions in several parts of the French capital. More than 100 others have been killed in other attacks across the country since then.
Many of the attacks have targeted major places of gathering, including tourist attractions in Paris and other cities.
French authorities have defined the highest possible level of alert in the country, days after attacks in London, which killed seven people. One of those slain in the weekend assaults in the British capital was a French national.