French police have taken into custody four members of the family of a radicalized Muslim who was killed when he rammed a car loaded with guns and a gas bottle into a police van on the Champs-Elysees, a judicial source said yesterday.
The ex-wife, brother and sister-in-law of Adam Dzaziri were detained late on Monday afternoon after police questioned them at the family home outside Paris.
The assailant’s father was also “taken into custody during the evening,” the source said.
Photo: AP / Noemie Pfister
Dzaziri was killed in Monday’s attack, but there were no other casualties.
Investigators offered no immediate details about the cause of his death. There has been no claim of responsibility for the assault, which occurred just a short distance from where a Muslim extremist shot dead a police officer two months earlier.
Dzaziri deliberately rammed his car into front of a police van as the van drove in a convoy down the Champs-Elysees, officials said.
Eyewitnesses saw the man being pulled from the car as it burned, and footage on the Daily Mail Web site later showed an officer stripping clothes from the body.
Footage recorded shortly afterwards at the site, a short walk from the Elysee presidential palace and the US embassy, showed yellow smoke billowing from the car.
“We saw big flames coming out of the front windows of the car,” 16-year-old eyewitness Adrien Cairo told Reuters. “Then suddenly we saw four policemen arrive, they knocked on the window, they said, ‘Sir, are you alright? Can you hear us?’”
He said police broke the window and pulled the man from the car while other police used fire extinguishers to put out the blaze.
Sources close to the investigation said Dzaziri had been on France’s security watchlist since 2015 over ties to “the radical Islamist movement.”
Police sources said that they found a Kalashnikov assault rifle, two handguns, ammunition as well as a gas bottle in the white Renault Megane.
The suspect’s father told Agence France-Pressse that his son “had a registered weapon, he practiced shooting.”
A source close to the case said the 31-year-old had a firearms permit granted before he was put on the watchlist.
France remains under a state of emergency imposed after the November 2015 attacks in Paris, when militants linked to the Islamic State group slaughtered 130 people in a night of carnage at venues across the city.
The latest attack came two days before the French government is to unveil a new anti-terrorism law, designed to allow the state of emergency to be lifted.
French President Emmanuel Macron last month said that his government would ask parliament to extend wider search and arrest powers granted under the state of emergency.
Some magistrates and human rights groups have protested against the proposal that would enshrine in ordinary law measures that are currently in place under the state of emergency.
“This once again shows that the threat level in France is extremely high,” French Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb told journalists near the scene on Monday.
“To those who question the necessity of such laws, you can see that the state of France today necessitates it,” he said.
“If we want to effectively ensure the security of our citizens, we must be able to take a certain number of measures,” he added.
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