Near the Christmas market in the center of the French city of Strasbourg Tuesday evening, at least three people were killed and thirteen injured after a man with an automatic weapon started shooting. The perpetrator is still on the run. The threat level in France was increased and investigators confirmed a terrorist attack.
The shooting took place around 7.50 pm on Tuesday near the Christmas market. A man shot in three places - the rue des Orfèvres, place Gutenberg and the pont du Corbeau - with an automatic weapon into the crowds, after which panic broke out.
The man also attacked people with a knife. He shouted Allahu Akbar as he committed his horrible acts.
There were 3 deaths and 13 wounded. One of the deadly victims is a tourist from Thailand. He was a man of 45 who was on holiday with his wife in France. The couple had arrived only a few hours before.
Related coverage: France - Strasbourg Christmas Market Terrorist Escapes - Video Of Shooting
Of the wounded, 6 are in critical condition. Initially there were 4 and then 3 deaths. On Wednesday morning, the death balance was adjusted to 2. Then it was adjusted to 3 again: according to police spokesman Mr Rémy Heitz, 2 deaths occurred immediately and a third person was declared brain dead in the afternoon.
The man also shot at the French soldiers who secured the Christmas market. They shot back and possibly hit the perpetrator, after which he fled. It is unclear how seriously he’s injured.
The terrorist is 29-year-old Cherif Chekat from Strasbourg, who was known to the authorities as a threat to state’s security.
The gunman normally had to present himself to the police on Tuesday morning, in the midst of an investigation into robberies and a murder attempt. Several others were arrested in that investigation, but when police went to his house his family declared that he wasn’t at home. During a raid of his house police found several grenades.
After the shooting, the gunman threatened a taxi driver. The shooter would have said to that taxi driver that he had "killed ten people". He left the taxi on the outskirts of Strasbourg and fled.
Related coverage: France - Four Killed In Terror Attack Near Christmas Market, 11 Injured
For Mr Roland Ries, mayor of Strasbourg, there can be no doubt: "This is undeniably another terrorist attack on France" he said Wednesday afternoon.
According to the mayor, it is absolutely essential that Wednesday is marked by mourning.
In the meantime, an investigation has been opened into murder and attempted murder with a terrorist character and participation in a terrorist criminal organization. Four family members of Mr Cherif Chekat have been arrested as they refused to cooperate with the investigation. Some 720 police officers are currently engaged in a large manhunt.
The longer the perpetrator can stay hidden however, the easier it becomes to believe that he is being helped.
One of the largest Christmas markets in Europe
The Christmas market in Strasbourg is one of the largest in Europe and attracts millions of visitors every year.
The historic center of the city, where the Christmas market is located, is surrounded by water. There were security posts on every bridge where visitors had to have their bags checked. Still the terrorist was able to enter with an automatic weapon.
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