Three killed at popular French market, massive manhunt for shooter on-the-run

Three people were killed on Tuesday evening at a popular Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg with a dozen more injured.

French security forces are in a hunt for the gunman, who fled after the shooting and has evaded police dragnet, according by French Interior Minister Christophe
Castaner.

"The government has raised its security threat to the highest level and is bolstering border controls," Castaner told a late-night news conference. "We will also reinforce security at all Christmas markets to prevent copycat attacks."

The attack happened at around 8pm local time.

The shooter has been identified by police as 29-year-old Strasbourg-born Cherif Chekatt, who was on French security's watchlist of suspected extremist. He was was wounded during a gunfight with soldiers patrolling the area as part of regular anti-terror operations.

Hundred of personnel have been deployed to partake in the manhunt, including police, troops, elite commandos and helicopters.

"There was confusion initially but they locked the front doors pretty soon after the gunshots," Elizabeth Osterwisch, who was sheltering on the top floor of the Galeries Lafayette department store to Reuters news agency. "They moved us several times, eventually settling on the place with the most protection."

"I heard shooting and then there was pandemonium," one witness, who gave his name as Fatih, told AFP. "People were running everywhere."

Another witness also told AFP, "We heard several shots, three perhaps, and we saw people running. One of them fell down, I don't know whether it was because she was tripped up or if she was hit,"

President Emmanuel Macron expressed on Twitter the solidarity of the whole nation after holding a crisis meeting with cabinet officials in Paris.

Other world leaders have sent their messages of solidarity since news of the shooting broke.

Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission, the EU executive body, tweeted: "My thoughts are with the victims of the Strasbourg shooting, which I condemn with the utmost firmness. Strasbourg is an excellent symbol of peace and European Democracy. Values that we will always defend."

"Shocked and saddened by the terrible attack in Strasbourg. My thoughts are with all of those affected and with the French people," British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter.

"Our first thought was for colleagues who had already made it to the centre of town, who are safe," Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt told AFP. "Now we just wait."




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