Published: Sat, December 15, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Strasbourg shooting: gunman was listed as potential terror threat

Strasbourg shooting: gunman was listed as potential terror threat

Police have distributed a photo of Chekatt, who was wounded in an exchange of fire with security forces, with the warning: "Individual unsafe, above all do not intervene".

With the gunman still on the run and officials dubbing the attack an act of terrorism, France raised its security threat to the highest level.

In response to Tuesday's shooting, the government chose to take the country's attack risk up a level on the official threat index and to send security reinforcements to Strasbourg, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in Strasbourg. He had been convicted 27 times in France, Germany and Switzerland for common law offenses, including armed robberies.

Others said the man was known in the area owing to his criminal record, but he kept a low profile.

The German authorities cooperate closely with their French partners, a spokesman for the interior ministry said, adding that it can not be ruled out that the suspect may have crossed the open border. Police were also checking pedestrians and trains arriving in Germany from Strasbourg. "We will also reinforce security at all Christmas markets to prevent copycat attacks", he said.

The gunman then fled the scene in a taxi, getting out in the city's southern Neudorf district, where he again exchanged fire with police before disappearing, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.

Witnesses had told investigators that the attacker cried out "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greater) as he opened fire on Tuesday on the Christmas market in Strasbourg, a target Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz suggested may have been chosen for its religious symbolism.

The dead included Thai tourist Anupong Suebsamarn, who was 45.

They had reportedly planned to be in Paris but the yellow vest protests in the capital caused them to change their itinerary and go to Strasbourg instead.

The shooter was shot and wounded by soldiers guarding the Christmas market, according to Stephane Morisse of police union FGP Police. An Italian journalist was in critical condition, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said.

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

"The decision has been taken, as a precautionary measure, to close the European Parliament building in Strasbourg".

Among the victims in Strasbourg, two were killed outright and another has been declared brain-dead, while 12 more were injured, six critically, Heitz said.

French security forces are trying to catch the suspected Strasbourg gunman "dead or alive" as the city in eastern France mourned with flowers and lit candles left at the site of the attack near its famous Christmas market.

The German government said it had stepped up controls on the border with France but did not change its threat level.

He listed violence since 2015 that killed more than 200: at the Charlie Hebdo satiric newspaper, a Kosher store, restaurants, bars and a concert hall in Paris; along the famed seaside promenade in Nice; and even inside a church in a quiet suburb of the northern city of Rouen, among others.

A terrorism investigation has been opened, but Nunez said it was too soon to establish the gunman's motives. He said several similar police operations have taken place since the attack.

Nuñez added that the gunman, who had spent time in prison in Germany and France, had been flagged up as having been radicalised in jail.

The verdict said Chekatt had worked for local authorities after leaving school, and had been unemployed since 2011.

A grenade, four knives, and a rifle were found during a search of his apartment, prosecutors have said.

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