Marine Le Pen Loses Ground To Emmanuel Macron In French Election Race

Investigators believe at this stage that the gunman, 39-year-old Frenchman Karim Cheurfi, was alone in killing a police officer and wounding two others and a German tourist on Thursday night, less than 72 hours before the polls open, a French official who discussed details of the investigation with the AP said on condition of anonymity.

All of the participants amended their closing statements to reflect the tragedy and mourn the loss of the murdered police officer.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama has given his backing to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron ahead of French elections this Sunday, telling the presidential hopeful to work hard until the very last minute of the campaign.

Ms Marine Le Pen, Mr Macron, Mr Mélenchon and Mr Francois Fillon are all in with a fighting chance, with just four points separating them in the latest opinion polls.

According to Le Pen's campaign manager, she also wants to "drastically change economic policy, while putting an end to increasing financialization and globalization of the economy".

The President again weighed in on the attack Friday morning, tweeting, "Another terrorist attack in Paris".

"It's too early to say how or whether he was connected to what happened on the Champs Elysees", ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

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"I think we must one and all have a spirit of responsibility at this extreme time and not give in to panic and not allow it to be exploited, which some might try to do", he told French radio.

An Elabe survey of voter intentions taken before the shooting on the Champs Elysees shopping street in central Paris showed Macron in front and far right leader Marine Le Pen falling further behind him.

The attack, which was claimed by Islamic State and resulted in the assailant being shot and killed as he tried to escape, took place while the candidates were appearing on a television interview show.

At the debate, the three leading candidates expressed support of the police, Fillon saying there is "no room for pursuing an election campaign today or tomorrow because, first of all, we have to demonstrate our solidarity with police". One of the wounded officers was critically injured but is improving, he said.

The "totalitarian" European Union has also always been one of Le Pen's pet hates and constant target for her virulent nationalist discourse. The Republican candidate, Francois Fillon, whose campaign has suffered because of his recent indictment on corruption charges, and the communist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon are each drawing 18-20 percent in the polls.

She added: "Elected president of the Republic, I would immediately, and with no hesitation, carry out the battle plan against Islamist terrorism and against judicial laxity".

She wants to tighten French borders controls and build more jails, and says authorities are not doing enough to protect citizens from attacks like Thursday's. This suggests that external factors, like a terrorist attack, may be more likely to sway undecided voters to the right. The country was rocked by an attack on Nice a year ago, when 86 people were killed after a truck was driven into crowds on Bastille Day, and Paris in November 2015, when 130 were murdered in coordinated suicide bombings and mass shootings around the city.

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