French police hunting second suspect in Champs Elysees attack

French police are hunting a second suspect in connection with the fatal shooting of a policeman in Paris, French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet says.

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Speaking on Europe 1 radio after Thursday’s shootout on the Champs Elysees shopping street, in which an assailant was also killed, Brandet said a second man had been identified by Belgian security officials and flagged to French authorities.

Observers had long feared bloodshed ahead of Sunday’s vote in France following a string of atrocities since 2015 and the violence is likely to thrust security to the front of voters’ minds.

The shooter opened fire with an automatic weapon on a police van on the world-famous boulevard at around 9:00 pm (1900 GMT), prompting tourists and visitors to run for their lives.

After killing the officer and injuring his colleagues just a few hundred metres from the Arc de Triomphe, the gunman was shot dead in return fire while trying to flee on foot, police sources told AFP.

A statement from the IS group published by its propaganda agency Amaq said the attacker was “one of the Islamic State’s fighters.”

WATCH: Hollande says shooting “of a terrorist nature”

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The killer, identified as a 39-year-old French man, was known to anti-terror police, sources told AFP, and raids took place at his address in a suburb to the east of Paris.

He was arrested in February on suspicion of plotting to kill officers but was released because of lack of evidence.

He had been convicted in 2005 of three counts of attempted murder, with two of these against police officers, sources said.

The impact on the outcome of the French election is unclear — Sunday is the poll’s first round — but far-right leader Marine Le Pen, her centrist rival Emmanuel Macron, and scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon cancelled campaign events planned for Friday.

Police seal off the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France, after a fatal shooting in which a police officer was killed along with an attacker (AAP)AAP

Up until now, surveys showed voters more concerned about unemployment and their spending power than terrorism or security, though analysts warned this would change in the event of violence.

The shooting comes two days after the arrest of two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the campaign.

French President Francois Hollande promised “absolute vigilance, particularly with regard to the electoral process” and paid tribute to the police. 

Hollande, who said he was convinced the shooting was a “terrorist act”, cancelled a trip to Bretagne and will chair a security cabinet meeting Friday.

WATCH: Eyewitness describes hiding in a shop

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Related readingSecurity in campaign 

Anti-immigration contender Le Pen earlier welcomed security moving to the heart of the campaign as she took part in a prime-time interview show alongside 10 other presidential candidates.

“We are suffering the consequences of a laxity that has continued for years,” she said shortly before the shooting, promising to take a hard line against extremists and anyone suspected of being an Islamist.

For weeks, former banker Macron and Le Pen have been out in front but opinion polls now show there is a chance that any of four leading candidates could reach the election’s second-round runoff on May 7.

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Conservative candidate Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have closed the gap substantially in the last two weeks.

“The first responsibility of the president is to protect,” Macron said on the interview show. “This threat will be part of our daily lives in the next years.”

Fillon, who penned a pre-election book called “Beating Islamic Totalitarianism”,  declared that “the fight against terrorism must be the absolute priority of the next president.”

As the first details of the attack filtered through, US President Donald Trump said that “it looks like another terrorist attack. What can you say? It just never ends.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent her condolences.

Marine Le Pen on #ParisAttack: “I don’t want us to get used to Islamic terrorism”

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) April 20, 2017State of emergency 

The bustling Champs Elysees lies in the heart of Paris and is lined with shops and restaurants. It was immediately blocked by armed officers after the attack and nearby metro stations were closed.

“We had to hide our customers in the basement,” Choukri Chouanine, manager of a restaurant near the site of the shooting, told AFP, saying there was “lots of gunfire.”

A spokesman for the interior ministry paid tribute to the fast reflexes of police at the scene who managed to kill the gunman and prevent further bloodshed on a busy spring-time evening.

French Prosecutors have identified the Paris gunman. Still investigating is he had accomplices. Chaotic scene – as you can see @SBSNews 苏州美甲培训学校,长沙SPA,/i22YEWBlM1

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) April 20, 2017

A foreign tourist was slightly wounded in her knee by shrapnel during the shooting.

France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of terror alert, with jihadist-inspired assaults killing more than 230 people in recent years.

The Charlie Hebdo magazine was hit in January 2015, sites around Paris including the Bataclan concert hall were targeted in November the same year, and families at a fireworks display in Nice in July 2016.

There have also been smaller attacks, often aimed at security forces.

Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to guard tourist hotspots such as the Champs Elysees or other potential targets, including government buildings and religious sites.

WATCH: Dateline: Will France Trump Brexit?

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Miss World Australia finalist Adau Mornyang says she was raped at 17

A Miss World Australia finalist from Victoria, 22-year-old Adau Mornyang, has spoken about being a survivor of rape, which occurred when she was a teenager.

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In an emotional hour-long live video on Facebook, Ms Mornyang described the incident, which she said occurred in Adelaide in 2012, when she was 17, after meeting up with two male friends.

She said she had turned to them for support after breaking up with her boyfriend. They encouraged her to drink alcohol, and she eventually blacked out. She said she woke up on a concrete floor of an Adelaide car park.

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“I lay there in shock. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t open my mouth, I couldn’t open my eyes…my vision was so blurry,” Ms Mornyang said in the video. 

“I could hear the two boys talking among themselves as I laid there in shock and I knew what was about to happen, but I couldn’t move. My body just shut down.

“As they were…taking turns, I was lying there crying to God that I just died. I just couldn’t believe it was happening.”

The Facebook video has had over 39,000 views and been shared more than 400 times.

Ms Mornyang said her purpose for the video was to begin a conversation about rape and rape culture, particularly in South Sudanese communities. 

She said she sees the Miss World Australia pageant, which she will compete in in July, as an opportunity to speak about social issues, and help those who have also experienced sexual assault.

If you or someone you know needs to speak to someone about sexual assault, you can contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Victoria’s South Sudan-born Miss World contest to tackle secrecy around rape

Community leaders have applauded the courage of a South Sudan-born Miss World Australia finalist, who has spoken out about bring raped as a teenager.

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Adau Mornyang told SBS News she hoped to use her ordeal to highlight the need for cultural change in response to sexual assaults.

“It is never your fault and you can never ask for rape,” she said.

“I want to shed a light on that from my community that we need to stop putting it under the rug.”

South Sudanese elders in Australia, like Kenyatta Wal, are appalled by her experience.

“My heart was broken thinking about the ordeal this young lady must have gone through, it’s heart-breaking and I am completely disgusted,” he said.

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Fellow South Sudanese elder Ambrose Mareng also commended Ms Mornyang’s actions.

“She is right to bring it up,” he told SBS News.

“Rape is not acceptable in any culture, in any system.”

Ms Mornyang, 22, is now Victoria’s Miss World Australia finalist, but there’s nothing glamorous about the story she revealed on Facebook of being raped as a teenager in Adelaide.

“This day has haunted me for six years,” she said.

While she reported the assault to police, Ms Mornyang said such was the pressure from within her own community the case was eventually dropped.

Watch: Miss World Australia finalist reveals sexual assault

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“Me being blamed for that and my community protecting the predators really affected me and being neglected by my family and by my own people affected me long-term,” she said.

White Ribbon’s executive manager of the ambassador program, Peterson Opio, said victim-blaming wasn’t isolated to any particular culture.

“This is something that we are trying to do at White Ribbon to break the silence when it comes to this issue, having more men get involved and play a proactive role in standing up and speaking out and taking action against these activities in their communities,” he said.

Mr Mareng said there needed to be less secrecy in order to “encourage those who have something happen to them whatever, to speak up”.

Ms Mornyang said she hoped to tackle the stigma around rape and sexual assault and would use her Miss Australia quest to promote awareness.

“It’s not okay because so many young girls and young women are suffering in silence, who are told to be quiet or are being blamed,” she said.

If you or someone you know needs to speak to someone about sexual assault, you can contact1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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Eurovision: Isaiah Firebrace hoping to inspire young Indigenous Australians

Isaiah Firebrace is representing Australia next month at Eurovision 2017 in Ukraine with his song Don’t Come Easy.

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But the 17-year-old has also just appeared on a smaller but just as important stage: a school in Melbourne’s North East.

Along with entertaining school kids, he hopes his new public profile will help improve the lives of young people – especially young Indigenous people.

“It’s definitely something I want to do is to inspire young Indigenous teenagers, and not only Indigenous, non-Indigenous kids as well,” he said.

“Just to never give up on your dreams no matter how young you are. I think age is just a number.”

From a large Aboriginal family in the town of Moama, last year’s X-factor winner is already experiencing global success.

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His first hit Gotta Be You went Platinum in Sweden, and charted in over 15 other countries.

He hopes sharing his story will help inspire others, whatever their background, to try their best.

“You kind of have to do what you have to do when you have a passion and you’re doing something you love.”     

Those working with Isaiah say it’s his warmth that makes him a natural on the stage.

The Australian Head of Delegation Paul Clarke said Isaiah is a great role model for young Australians.

“I think he will do Australia proud – and I think he is a great ambassador for all young Australians, but particularly Indigenous Australians looking for a role model – I think he’s a brilliant role model.”

The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast over SBS’s Eurovision weekend – Friday 12 May, Saturday 13 May, and Grand Final Sunday 14 May at 7.30pm on SBS with LIVE early morning broadcasts begin Wednesday 10 May at 5am on SBS.

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Super Netball protest coming but no strike

Australia’s Super Netball players will make some form of protest in this weekend’s round of games, but will not strike despite disappointment at Kathryn Harby-Williams not being re-elected to the Netball Australia (NA) board.

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Former Australian captain Harby-Williams, the preferred candidate of the Australian Netball Players’ Association (ANPA), lost her position at Friday’s AGM in Canberra, but talks involving the players decided against striking this weekend, which had been one of the mooted options.

“The players have today met and resolved that some form of protest will occur at this weekend’s Suncorp Super Netball matches,” an ANPA statement released on Friday read.

“The players have resolved that the protest will not include cancelling this week’s matches in the interest of fans, corporate partners and broadcast obligations.

“Instead the protest will seek to continue to shine a light on the very real issue of independence and governance on the board.

“The players will keep a very watchful eye over the deliberations of the board in the immediate future to ensure it makes decisions that benefit the sport as a whole and not for some.”

Netball Australia expressed their gratitude to the players for not sitting out this weekend’s games.

“The organisation is grateful that in the interest of fans, corporate partners and broadcast obligations, the athletes have elected to play at this weekend’s Suncorp Super Netball double headers in Brisbane and Sydney,” the NA statement said.

“Netball Australia and its member organisations are united in wanting the best for our game.

“We are committed to seeing our athletes be the first fully professional female athletes with the best terms and conditions.

“Netball Australia and the clubs will continue to work closely with the Australian Netball Players’ Association.

The ANPA lobbied this week for Harby-Williams to be re-elected, stating in a letter to NA chair Paolina Hunt that she was the most-qualified candidate.

It was their non-negotiable position she be re-elected and if that didn’t happen the players would lose confidence in the people entrusted to select the NA board.

They were angry former board chair Anne-Marie Corboy was dumped at a special general meeting called by the member organisations last week, describing it as an inexcusable lack of judgement.

They wanted independent directors who were not aligned to member associations.

Cheryl McCormack, Marcia Ella-Duncan, and Susan Comerford were appointed to the board of directors, after the vote at Friday’s AGM.

McCormack and Ella-Duncan will commence three-year terms, with Comerford appointed for one-year, filling a casual vacancy caused by Corboy’s removal from the Board.

Ella-Duncan and McCormack are former Diamonds representatives and Comerford is on the Netball SA board.

“We are confident that our board of directors has a dynamic combination of experience,” Hunt said.

“Now that the vote has been determined, we are ready to move forward collectively and focus on creating the best outcomes for our sport.”