Strasbourg: A gunman killed at least three people and wounded a dozen others at the famed Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg on Tuesday before fleeing the scene, authorities said. A manhunt was underway after the killer opened fire at around 8 pm (1900 GMT) on one of the city’s busiest streets, sending crowds of evening shoppers fleeing for safety.
Soldiers patrolling the area as part of regular anti-terror operations exchanged fire with the suspect and wounded him, but could not stop him escaping, police sources said. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said early Wednesday the gunman had killed three people and wounded 12. Earlier Mayor Roland Ries had given a toll of “four dead and a dozen wounded”.
The gunman has been identified and was on a watchlist of suspected extremists, a statement from local security services said.
France’s security forces, already on high alert after a series of terror attacks since 2015, are particularly stretched at the moment due to anti-government protests that have swept the country.
A police source, again speaking on condition of anonymity, said security forces had opened fire in an area of the city where the suspect was thought to be hiding.
The source did not give the address and it was unclear if the shooter had been located.
Specialist anti-terror prosecutors have opened an investigation into the incident in Strasbourg, which lies on the border with Germany.
Several residents of the city have been detained in recent years for trying to reach jihadist groups in Syria, or have been arrested upon their return.
“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.