PARIS – A driver rammed a car carrying weapons and explosives into a police van as it drove down Paris' Champs Elysees avenue on Monday in the latest in a string of European attacks involving vehicles.
The man, who was known to French security services, died in the incident, officials said. Footage on the Daily Mail web site later showed an officer stripping clothes off the body. It was unclear how the man had died. Nobody else was hurt.
The Paris incident came hours after a van plowed into worshippers near a London mosque, injuring 10 people. At least 84 people died in a truck attack on a crowd in Nice last year and similar incidents have occurred in London and Berlin.
The Paris prosecutor's counter-terrorism unit said an investigation had been opened into the Paris incident a short walk from the Elysee presidential palace and the U.S. embassy.
The car hit the front of the van as it was overtaking a convoy of police vehicles, a police spokeswoman said. Footage recorded shortly afterwards showed orange smoke billowing from the car.
France has been on high security alert following a series of militant Islamist attacks in recent years, including the shooting of a policeman in an Islamic State-claimed attack on a police bus on the Champs Elysees in April.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the man's car was carrying weapons and explosives that could have caused a blast.
"This once again shows that the threat level in France is extremely high," Collomb told journalists near the scene.
President Emmanuel Macron said last month his government would ask parliament to extend wider search and arrest powers granted under a state of emergency called after Islamist gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in and around Paris in November 2015.
Some magistrates and human rights groups have protested against the proposal that would enshrine in ordinary law measures currently in place under the state of emergency.
(Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander and Emmanuel Jarry)