France Steps up Security With Spain After Strasbourg Shooting

Clay Curtis
December 15, 2018

A manhunt is underway in France for a known criminal suspected of opening fire on a Christmas market in Strasbourg on Tuesday evening, killing two people and injuring more than a dozen others.

The man suspected of killing and wounding multiple people at Strasbourg's famed Christmas market was killed by French police, following a shoot-out not far from the scene of Tuesday's attack.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said police recognized a man who looked like Chekatt walking on the street in Strasbourg's Neudorf district on Thursday night and approached him.

Witnesses said the gunman shouted "Allahu akbar", Arabic for "God is great", before opening fire on the popular Christmas market around 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday, according to prosecutors.

France raised its security threat level to highest, strengthening controls along its border with Germany, where agents from both countries stepped up checks of motorists' identity and vehicles crossing the Rhine river.

The man was flagged by French security forces in 2015 as a possible extremist while in prison, after he "called for practising a radical form of religion", deputy interior minister Laurent Nunez told France Inter radio Wednesday.

French police officers patrol next to Notre-Dame cathedral of Strasbourg following a shooting in the city in eastern France, Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Heitz, who handles terrorism investigations around the country, said the shooting was an act of terrorism.

Previously, French authorities had said the assailant killed three people, but Mr Heitz said two people were confirmed dead while the third was brain dead.

Chekatt had 27 convictions in France, Germany and Switzerland, and authorities believe he became radicalised while in jail.

France Attack
People remember the victims the night after the shooting in Strasbourg

"It doesn't matter [if he is taken alive]".

Local authorities tweeted for the public to "avoid the area of the police station", which is close to the city's Christmas market.

Without providing additional details, Morisse said police had gone to the home to arrest the man, but he wasn't there.

Mr Heitz said the gunman was shot in the arm during an exchange of fire with soldiers before taking a taxi to another part of the city.

The people who died in the attack included a Thai tourist, 45-year-old Anupong Suebsamarn, according to the Thai Foreign Ministry.

Seven of the injured are said to be in a serious condition.

Cherif Chekatt was killed in the Neudorf/Meinau area of the city after a police operation was launched around 2100 hrs (2000 GMT) on Thursday about 2 kilometres from where he launched his attack on Tuesday.

One of the biggest Christmas trees in Europe is put up in Place Kleber, the largest square in the city, which was named after French general Jean-Baptiste Kleber who was born in Strasbourg in 1753. European Union leaders held a minute of silence for the victims. Some members of the movement planned a fifth round of demonstrations on Saturday to demand tax relief.

The usually busy streets of Strasbourg were eerily empty on Thursday morning, with a heavy police and military presence.

Strasbourg was in mourning, with candles lit and flowers left at the site of the attack. Italian daily La Repubblica reported he was in Strasbourg to follow the session of the European Parliament.

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