Strasbourg shooting: France hunts gunman as alert level raised


Paris: France has issued a maximum level of alert as police hunt a gunman who opened fire at a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg.
Three people were killed and 13 wounded, eight of them seriously.
The gunman, 29, known to authorities as a suspected extremist, escaped after reportedly being injured.
Some 350 officers are involved in the search for the gunman. France’s counter terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the country had issued an “urgence attentat” (emergency attack) alert, expanding police powers and creating the highest degree of vigilance.
He added that border controls had been strengthened and security at all Christmas markets would be stepped up.
The mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, has said the Christmas market will be closed on Wednesday and flags lowered to half-mast at the local town hall
The attack unfolded at around 20:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on Tuesday close to Strasbourg’s famed Christmas market near one of the central squares, Place Kléber, which attracts thousands of visitors at this time of year.
The gunman exchanged fire with officers who were patrolling the area as part of anti-terror measures.
It is thought he was injured. According to Castaner, the man “fought twice with our security forces
According to France’s BFM TV, he managed to reach a taxi which drove him away from the scene and dropped him in the vicinity of the police station in Neudorf, the area where he is understood to live.
It was the taxi driver who told police the man was wounded in his left leg.
Residents in Neudorf have been urged to stay indoors.
Nothing is known of the victims yet.
However, eyewitness Pater Fritz told the BBC he heard gunfire and found a person who had been shot, lying on a bridge. He said he tried to resuscitate him but the man died.
He said no ambulance services had been able to enter the area, adding: “After 45 minutes we stopped the resuscitation [attempt], because a doctor told us on the phone that it was senseless.”
Another eyewitness, who gave his name as Fatih, told media that after the shots were fired there was “pandemonium” on the streets.
“People were running everywhere,” he said.
Local journalist Bruno Poussard wrote on Twitter that there had been a dozen shots fired on his street in the city centre – one or two to begin with, then in bursts.
The impact of the shooting was felt further away from the square as well.
The European Parliament, which is nearby, was placed on lockdown. The parliament’s president, Antonio Tajani, tweeted to say it would “not be intimidated by terrorist or criminal attacks”.


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