The Latest: Explosion, fire reported near Damascus airport

BEIRUT (AP) -- The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local): 7 a.m. Syrian opposition activists and a monitor say a large explosion has rocked the Syrian capital, followed by a fire near Damascus airport. The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdurrahman says the explosion early Thursday has been heard across the capital, jolting residents awake.

France: Analysis shows Syrian government behind sarin attack

PARIS (AP) -- France said that the chemical analysis of samples taken from a deadly sarin gas attack in Syria earlier this month "bears the signature" of President Bashar Assad's government and shows it was responsible. Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said France came to this conclusion after comparing samples from a 2013 sarin attack in Syria that matched the new ones. The findings came in a six-page report published Wednesday.

France honors police officer killed in Champs-Elysees attack

PARIS (AP) -- France's top officials and presidential candidates attended a national ceremony Tuesday to honor the police officer killed by an Islamic extremist on the Champs-Elysees. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron, who are facing off in the May 7 presidential runoff, were present at the ceremony at the Paris police headquarters. Others present were Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

French stocks soar to near-decade highs as Macron tops poll

LONDON (AP) -- As relief rallies go, this is as good as they come. European markets have jumped higher, with France's main index hitting its highest level since early 2008, amid relief over the results of the first round of the French presidential election. Though Marie Le Pen of the far-right National Front came second with 21.

The Latest: Israeli lawmaker urges French to back Macron

PARIS (AP) -- The Latest on the French presidential election (all times local): 6:50 p.m. A prominent Israeli opposition lawmaker is urging French voters to back centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron in the May 7 runoff election, calling far-right contender Marine Le Pen "dangerous.

Old-guard rallies around newcomer Macron for French runoff

PARIS (AP) -- France's established parties are rallying around the man who helped shut them out of the presidential runoff, maverick centrist Emmanuel Macron -- an alliance of convenience aimed at keeping far-right Marine Le Pen out of the Elysee Palace. Support for Macron also poured in Monday from the seat of the European Union, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jewish and Muslim groups troubled by Le Pen's nationalist vision.

French vote for Macron, Le Pen shuts out mainstream politics

PARIS (AP) -- French voters shut out the country's political mainstream from the presidency for the first time in the country's modern history, and on Monday found themselves being courted across the spectrum for the runoff election. The May 7 runoff will be between the populist Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron, and French politicians on the moderate left and right immediately urged voters to block Le Pen's path to power.

11 candidates vie for French presidency in high-stakes race

PARIS (AP) -- From far left to far right, young to old, 11 candidates are vying for France's presidency in an election that is being watched as an indicator of populism's global appeal. The traditional contenders are joined -- and often have been overshadowed during the campaign -- by rivals pledging to scrap long-held expectations, such as France's participation in the European Union and NATO.

The Latest: French candidate Macron revels at Paris eatery

PARIS (AP) -- The Latest on the first round of France's presidential election (all times local): 12:40 a.m. Emmanuel Macron is celebrating his victory in France's first-round presidential election at a Left Bank eatery frequented by Ernest Hemingway and other artistic dignitaries. The choice to dine in La Rotonde in the Montparnasse neighborhood fits with Macron's literary leanings -- he quotes poets and philosophers in his campaign rallies.

French vote for Macron, Le Pen shuts out mainstream politics

PARIS (AP) -- French voters shut out the country's political mainstream from the presidency for the first time in the country's modern history, and on Monday found themselves being courted across the spectrum for the runoff election. The May 7 runoff will be between the populist Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron, and French politicians on the moderate left and right immediately urged voters to block Le Pen's path to power.

Security tight as France prepares for presidential vote

PARIS (AP) -- Early voting began overseas Saturday in France's most nail-biting election in generations, and the 11 candidates seeking to become the country's next president silenced their campaigns as required to give voters a period of reflection. Opinion polls pointed to a tight race among the four top contenders vying to get into the May 7 presidential runoff that will decide who becomes France's next head of state.

Melenchon's working-class rhetoric hits home in French vote

PARIS (AP) -- He's been labeled the French Fidel Castro, but his mentor in politics is the late French President Francois Mitterrand. A radical Trotskyist in his youth, he's also served as a minister in a Socialist government. It took Jean-Luc Melenchon a long time to find his own way in politics.

The Latest: Far-left candidate goes on with final event

PARIS (AP) -- The Latest on the shootings of police officers in Paris (all times local): 8:30 p.m. French far-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon has ended his political campaign in style -- with a cocktail. While other candidates cancelled their last sprint of campaigning Friday in light of Thursday's deadly gun attack on the Champs-Elysees avenue, the firebrand 65-year-old carried on his pre-planned event in Paris so as "not to interrupt the democratic process.

Champs-Elysees gunman had long criminal record, praised IS

PARIS (AP) -- The gunman who shot and killed a police officer on the famed Champs-Elysees just days before the French presidential vote spent 14 years in prison, including for attacking other officers, Frances's anti-terrorism prosecutor said Friday -- a lengthy criminal history that gave a jolt to an already nail-biting election and fueled growing security concerns.

The Latest: Trump says strong Europe 'very important'

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on Thursday's press conference with President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni (all times EDT): 4:40 p.m. President Donald Trump says a strong Europe is "very, very important" to the United States. Trump comments come in advance of Sunday's presidential election in France, a contest that has high stakes for the future of the European Union.

The Latest: Champs-Elysees reopening after gun attack

PARIS (AP) -- The Latest on the shootings of two police officers in Paris (all times local): ___ 6:45 a.m. Paris' iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard is reopen and picking up its usual early morning routine Friday after a gunman opened fire on police, killing one officer and wounding three people before police shot and killed him. Municipal workers in white hygiene suits washed down the sidewalk where Thursday night's attack took place.

Paris police shot on Champs-Elysees; IS group claims attack

PARIS (AP) -- A gunman opened fire on police on Paris' iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard Thursday night, killing one officer and wounding three people before police shot and killed him. The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, which hit just three days before a tense presidential election. Security already has been a dominant theme in the campaign, and the violence on the sparkling avenue threatened to weigh on voters' decisions.

Topsy-turvy French election still has surprises in store

PARIS (AP) -- A French presidential campaign that's been filled with unprecedented twists and turns still has surprises in store heading into Sunday's first-round vote. With voters in a rebellious mood and many hesitant to the end about their choices, the identities of the two candidates who will progress to a winner-takes-all May 7 runoff remain anyone's guess.

French presidential hopefuls wrap up campaigns in tight race

PARIS (AP) -- Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen vowed on Wednesday to end the fear of terrorism in France and stamp out the "poison" of Islamic radicals, holding her final rally in the southern port city of Marseille, where police arrested two men a day earlier on suspicion of plotting an attack around this weekend's vote.

BC-AP News Digest 6:15 pm

Here are the AP's latest coverage plans, top stories and promotable content. All times EDT. Adds: TRUMP-PARIS ACCORD; TRUMP-INAUGURAL DONORS; FRESNO FATAL SHOOTING; MISSING NYC BOY; FRANCE-ELECTION; FACEBOOK-EVENT. --------------- ONLY ON AP --------------- TRUMP COUNTRY-REFUGEES AND RESENTMENT, HFR -- Richard Rodrigue's working-class Maine community is a place some point to as proof that refugee integration can work. Some 7,500 immigrants have come here, and Rodrigue credits them with plugging the population drain.