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Monday, 15 July, 2002, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
French papers play it cool
arrest
The man was quickly ovepowered by police (AP)

"Ah, bon [Oh, well]" is how President Jacques Chirac responded when told the news that there had been an attempt on his life during the Bastille Day parade on Sunday, according to the French newspapers.

And the papers' coverage reflects that muted response - some even fail to record the dramatic Champs Elysee shooting by a lone gunman.


The [economic] commitments will be maintained

Top headline in Le Figaro
In some of them, the news of the assassination is buried below pieces on Mr Chirac's 14 July interviews - even though he made no startling announcements.

None carry editorials on the event.

"The president escapes an assassination attempt," declares Le Monde, before giving details of the single shot fired from the low-calibre rifle the 25-year-old Maxime Brunerie produced from a guitar case.

"The president did not react because the occurrence was 30 or 40 metres from where he was in the middle of Champs Elysee," the paper cites photographer Jacques Brignon.

Chirac in open-top car
The president carried on undisturbed
Le Monde quotes Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy describing the shooting as a "grave event", before proceeding to describe the gunman as someone "unfavourably known to the police services by virtue of his membership of a hooligan movement, the extreme right and neo-Nazi movements".

Liberation covers its front page with a picture of Mr Chirac in his motorcade and the headline "In the line of fire".

The paper quotes investigators as saying Brunerie would probably not have been able to kill Mr Chirac from a distance of 30-40m - the rifle involved is dangerous at closer range, under 25m.

Extreme right

"It's a difficult shot, but it could have been lethal," the paper writes. "Even though he had little chance of hitting the target, he had the intention and tried to."

Liberation goes on to suggest that a search of Brunerie's house at Courcouron - where he lived with his parents - had produced an "abundance of neo-Nazi literature".

The gunman was also known to police for his participation in right-wing protests, and even stood as a candidate in local elections

It's a difficult shot, but it could have been lethal," the paper writes

Liberation
on 2001 for the right-wing National Republican Movement (MNR).

But comments by one minister, that Maxime Brunerie was "more to the right than the National Front" are not well-received by the Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.

"I did think that if there was a madman, there would be attempts, in one way or another, to say that he came from the extreme right, the word is out," Mr Le Pen was quoted as saying.

Plainclothes police officer carries seized rifle
The rifle was carried in a guitar case
Although later editions of Le Figaro still carry a photo of Mr Chirac standing in the back of a jeep as the shot rang out, its main story is about his pledge to sticking to his economic programme.

Similarly, the economic daily La Tribune also notes that the president reiterated "the priority that he gives to lowering taxes," before running a news agency profile of the self-confessed assassin.

See also:

14 Jul 02 | Europe
13 Jul 02 | Americas
02 Jul 02 | Talking Point
17 Jun 02 | Europe
16 Jun 02 | Europe
19 Jun 02 | Country profiles
14 Jul 02 | Europe
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