One police officer was killed and two seriously injured Thursday evening after a gunman opened fire at a police patrol in the famous Champs-Elysees boulevard in the French capital, according to the Interior Ministry.
A man got out of a car and targeted the police directly, Ministry spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet said, adding the driver was believed to be on the loose.
Initial reports had said the incident had left one officer wounded.
Brandet said the attacker used an automatic weapon, and aimed at a parked police van before he was killed by the other police officers at the scene.
Brandet dismissed reports claiming the incident was an armed robbery gone wrong.
"I can tell you that, according to the initial findings, police were targeted directly," Brandet said in a statement.
The city's anti-terrorist prosecutors have opened a probe into the shooting.
"The investigation has been entrusted to the Anti-Terrorist Section (SAT) of the Criminal Brigade and the Directorate General of Internal Security (DGSI)," Paris chief prosecutor's office said in a statement.
The touristic area has been evacuated and closed off. Several police cars and helicopters have been dispatched to the scene.
Paris Police Prefecture and Interior Ministry said on Twitter an operation was ongoing and warned people to avoid the Champs-Elysees area.
All metro stations at the venue have also been locked down.
In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump offered his condolences after what he said "looks like another terrorist attack".
"That's a terrible thing and it's a very, very terrible thing that's going on in the world today," he said at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. "We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant."
Gentiloni echoed Trump's comments in remarks translated from Italian, saying "this is a very delicate period for" the French people.
The attack comes three days ahead of the first round of the presidential election to choose two candidates for the run-off on May 7.
*Michael Hernandez contributed to this report from Washington. -