'Islamist' attack on France's Reunion island wounds 2 police

'Islamist' attack on France's Reunion island wounds 2 police

A suspected Islamist radical shot and wounded two policemen on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion as they tried to arrest him today, authorities said.

The attack comes a week after a French policeman was shot and killed and two others wounded on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, just days ahead of the first round of the presidential election.

More than 230 people have been killed in a string of jihadist attacks on the French mainland since January 2015 and the country has been under a state of emergency for nearly a year and a half.

"The man refused to be arrested and fired a rifle at police," a government official said, adding that the suspect - in his 20s, who is believed to be a recent convert to Islam - was now in custody.

The lives of the two officers are not in danger and the anti-terrorist department of the Paris prosecutors' office is investigating the attack.

The man lived with his mother, also in custody, in an apartment in Saint-Benoit, in the island's east.

Authorities seized several weapons and other material that could be used to make Molotov cocktails, France's interior and overseas ministers said in a joint statement.

The suspect "is a very discreet man who didn't seem to have a lot of friends and was never a problem," a neighbour said.

"We did notice that he had been sporting a beard lately but we didn't pay much attention to it," added a young man.

A jihadist network, the first in a French overseas territory, was smashed in Reunion in June 2015. Its leader, a 21-year-old known as "The Egyptian", was arrested and transferred to Paris.

Authorities in Reunion estimate there are around 100 radicalised Islamists on the island.
The string of terror attacks in France began in January 2015 with a massacre at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.

The following November, IS gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in Paris, and a Tunisian man rammed a truck through crowds in Nice last July, killing 86 people.

France remains on high alert as it prepares to choose between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election on May 7.

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