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Trump predicts Paris attack will have a ‘big effect’ on French presidential election

President Donald Trump predicted Friday morning that Thursday’s attack in Paris, which left one officer dead and two others wounded, will have a “big effect” when voters go to the polls Sunday to select the next French president. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump predicted early Friday that Thursday’s attack in Paris “will have a big effect” when voters go to the polls to select the next French president this Sunday.

Paris police say a gunman is dead after opening fire near the Champs-Élysées Thursday evening, killing one police officer and injuring two others. The president said at the time that it “looks like another terrorist attack.”

In his tweet, Trump did not mention any of the 11 presidential contenders — four of whom are polling fairly close to one another — by name. If none of the candidates receives 50 percent of the vote, which is likely, the top two will compete in a runoff May 7.

Many have drawn comparisons, however, between Trump and far-right French candidate Marine Le Pen, who has struck nationalist chords over the course of her campaign. In a statement Friday, Le Pen blamed “radical Islam” for the latest Paris attack.

Islamic State claimed responsibility early Friday morning, ABC News reported. The terrorist group released a message through its news agency Ameq, saying the attacker was “one of the fighters for the Islamic State.”

Le Pen described radical Islam as “a monstrous, totalitarian ideology that has declared war on our nation, on reason, on civilization,” The New York Times reported. In her campaign, she has targeted roughly 10,000 people who French law enforcement officers have flagged as possible Islamist radicals.

Those 10,000 people are part of the country’s so-called S-files, which houses the names of individuals believed to be linked, in some way, to a terrorist group or movement. The “S” stands for the suspect’s potential danger to the “security of the state,” according to i24News. Le Pen said those in the files who are foreigners should be deported, those with duel citizenship should be stripped of their French nationality, and those who are French should be prosecuted.

The latest polling shows Le Pen running second, with 21.5 percent of the vote. In the lead is centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, with 24 percent of the vote. Conservative candidate François Fillon and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon are just behind Le Pen, polling at 20 percent and 19.5 percent, respectively.

After the attack, the leading French candidates cancelled campaign events slated for Friday, the final day of the campaign.

Trump offered “condolences from our people to the people of France” during a news conference Thursday with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

“What can you say? It just never ends,” the president continued. “We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant and I've been saying it for a long time.”

France has been under a state of emergency since the 2015 attack in Paris, which President François Hollande described as an “act of war.” The assault left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded.

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