Manhunt continues after fatal Strasbourg Christmas market shooting; suspect identified

Arturo Kim
December 13, 2018

As a manhunt continues for the gunman, the country has moved to a high level of alert, with an increase in police presence and border security.

"We will also reinforce security at all Christmas markets to prevent copycat attacks".

Mr Castaner said: 'Three hundred and fifty police and gendarmes are now on the ground to apprehend the suspect, supported by two helicopters, the RAID (French anti-terror police), the BRI (anti-gang brigade) and the Sentinel force. France 24 reports the suspect was supposed to be arrested for attempted murder before the attack and "was sentenced in 2011 to two years in prison for assault with a weapon".

President Emmanuel Macron held a crisis meeting with cabinet officials in Paris shortly after midnight.

No group has taken responsibility for the Strasbourg attack. The government raised the security level after the attack.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner was back Wednesday in Paris after travelling to Strasbourg overnight to supervise police operations.

Peter Fritz said after the gunfire near a Christmas market: "We tried our best to resuscitate him".

A neighbor, who also asked not to be named, said he was rarely home. Police are now guarding the building where Chekatt is believed to have lived, which is in an outer neighborhood of Strasbourg.

The gunman then escaped in a taxi.

Shortly after the shooting, lines of police vehicles and ambulances streamed into the market area, under festive lights declaring the city the "capital of Christmas".

Witnesses told authorities that he yelled "Allah hu Akbar" ("my god is greater [than your god]) as he opened fire, killing two, causing brain death in another, and injuring a further 12 - six of whom are said to be fighting for their lives in hospital".

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He said the man was armed with a handgun and a knife, using them to attack his victims.

Of the 11 wounded, five people were critically injured, according to the local prefecture.

In 2015, two masked gunmen walked into the Charlie Hebdo's offices and killed 12 people.

The suspected gunman, identified by police union officials as 29-year-old Cherif Cherkatt, is still at large. They had wanted to take him into custody as in an investigation for suspected murder.

Officials said Cherif Chekatt has a lengthy criminal record including several serious cases of robbery.

"It's a large zone and the search is hard", senior Interior Ministry official Laurent Nunez said on France-Inter radio. He was not at home at the time. "I only learned Anuphong was killed by stray bullets", his cousin Thiraphon Chatchayaworachat said on Wednesday. "We have to go forward and not change our ways", Tajani said. The Ministry is in contact with the local authorities and is keeping an eye on the situation in Strasbourg.

Four people connected to him were detained in Strasbourg overnight, he added.

A French soldier stands guard at the Christmas market in Strasbourg, in front of the city's cathedral, as police conduct a search for a man suspected of opening fire on a crowd the night before.

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.

The Telegraph notes, "Christmas markets have been considered a terror target ever since the foiled terror attack in December 2000".

The attack revived memories of a new millennium terror plot targeting Strasbourg's Christmas market.

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