Published: Thu, December 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

French armed police conduct operation in Strasbourg's Neudorf district

French armed police conduct operation in Strasbourg's Neudorf district

Petermann and Germany's justice ministry said that German authorities had no information on links between the suspected attacker, who previously spent prison time in Germany for robbery, and Islamic extremists. He's a known religious extremist with 27 prior convictions across three countries, radicalized in prison.

There is a strong presence of armed police on the streets, where last night's shooting took place.

The massive Strasbourg Christmas market is one of Europe's most famous - it's been held annually since 1570, according to the city.

The two officials spoke anonymously because they were not allowed to speak publicly on an ongoing investigation.

"There was confusion initially but they locked the front doors pretty soon after the gunshots", said US citizen Elizabeth Osterwisch, who was sheltering on the top floor of the Galeries Lafayette department store. Six other victims suffered minor injuries, Strasbourg police said.

On Tuesday morning, before the attack, authorities in Strasbourg visited Chekatt's home to arrest him on suspicion of homicide. There, he exchanged more gunfire with police and disappeared. He expressed "sorrow" for the victims, adding that Parliament will "continue to work and react strengthened by freedom and democracy against terrorist violence".

Reports yesterday from the Associated Press and others indicated that four people had died, but today officials clarified that two people had died and a third individual is brain dead.

- BFMTV said the suspect was known to be part of radicalised networks in Strasbourg and was a "repeat offender" and a "delinquent".

Nunez said on France-Inter radio that police sought to arrest the man on Tuesday morning, hours before the shooting, in relation to an attempted murder. The Christmas market was closed at least through Thursday, authorities said.

After police announced the official death toll at two earlier in the evening, Strasbourg mayor Roland Ries said that number of casualties had risen to four, before scaling the estimate down again later in the evening.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux asked the protesters to be "reasonable" in light of the strain on security forces after the deadly attack in Strasbourg on Tuesday night.

The Paris Prosecutor's Office said its anti-terror section is in charge of the investigation.

The lock of the door is broken at the suspect's apartment. Police were guarding the building. People are invited to stay at home.

"Our security forces have been deployed extensively these past few weeks", Griveaux told CNews television.

The Strasbourg prefecture said the gunman was on an intelligence services watchlist.

In 2016, the suspected shooter was jailed in Germany for robberies in the city of Mainz and the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg before being expelled back to France after serving a year behind bars.

Security was tight this year for the Christmas market, which is popular with visitors to the city's old quarter, with its Gothic cathedral and half-timbered houses.

The dead included a Thai tourist, 45-year-old Anupong Suebsamarn, according to Thai Foreign Ministry and the website of the Khao Sod newspaper.

The newspaper quoted his uncle as saying the couple had originally planned to be in Paris, but the yellow vest protests there caused them to change plans and go to Strasbourg instead.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said one Italian was among the wounded, in critical condition.

The European Parliament, which is based in Strasbourg, was on lockdown.

France has been hit in recent years with high-profile extremist attacks, including the co-ordinated attacks at multiple Paris locations that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds in November 2015.

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