Centrist Emmanuel Macron has urged France to not "give into fear" after the attack. After stepping down as National Front leader, far-right Marine Le Pen has described herself as the "candidate to protect French people."
French presidential candidates Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen on Tuesday attended a memorial ceremony honoring the police officer shot dead in central Paris last week in an attack claimed by the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militant group.
Days before the first round of France's presidential election, a 39-year-old Frenchman shot and killed police officer Xavier Jugele on Paris' iconic Champs-Elysees, prompting fears that it could have influenced the highly-contested vote as security entered center stage once again.
"Today, the entire nation expresses its deep appreciation and gratitude to Captain Jugele," said outgoing French President Francois Hollande during the service. "Let him know that after him, others will rise to pursue his commitment to freedom and human dignity."
Both candidates have offered contrasting visions on how to bolster France's security. Le Pen has called for reinstating border controls with its European neighbors and holding a referendum on France's membership in the EU, describing herself as the "candidate to protect the French people."
Meanwhile, Macron has urged French citizens to not "give into fear," noting that tackling terrorism requires a nuanced approach. He vowed to establish a presidential unit that would specifically work on combating IS.
"A vigorous offensive will be taken to fight Islamic radicalization, especially on the internet," he said at a press conference in the wake of last week's attack. "This is a moral challenge, a challenge for civilization."
Over the past two years, France has been struck by a series of devastating terrorist attacks, including the IS-claimed Paris rampage that left 130 people dead in November 2015.
From victory to the unknown
In a bid to shore up more support and be seen as a favorable candidate for all of France, Le Pen stepped down from leadership at her populist National Front party on Monday evening.
Since Macron's electoral success, major party leaders, including the outgoing president, have endorsed the centrist candidate as a vote against the far-right.
European leaders have also hailed Macron's qualification into the second round, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying it was good given "his course for a strong EU and strong market economy."
ls/rt (AFP, Reuters)