By Stefan J. Bos
Heavily armed security forces began checking cars on key roads surrounding Strasbourg. Hundreds of agents are involved in finding the terror suspect who opened fire near a Christmas market here.
Authorities said two people had been killed and one left brain-dead after the attack. Twelve were wounded, six seriously.
Panicked-stricken people could be seen running away from the scene. The Strasbourg gunman allegedly yelled "Allahu Akbar" or "Allah is greatest."
as he opened fire on people enjoying an evening out at one of Europe's largest Christmas market.
The man was later named as Chérif Chekatt. He was known to authorities as having been radicalized in prison. Officials said the 29-year-old was armed with a gun and a knife. The man, who was reportedly injured in a shootout with police, escaped the area in a taxi.
Strasbourg is also hosting the European Parliament and its president Antonio Tajani expressed concern about the attack. "This was a criminal attack against peace, democracy and our way of life. We must react by doing exactly the opposite of those who wish to harm democracy," he told legislators.
France's defense counsel was gathering in an emergency session. Military officials, government members, including the prime minister, interior, defense, and foreign affairs ministers were trying to tackle the aftermath of the latest terror attack to hit France.
They were to discuss the progress of the investigation and other security measures as the government also raised the alert level nationwide.
Nearby Germany was closely following the situation with the government saying it has stepped up controls on the country’s border with France following Tuesday night’s attack in Strasbourg.
However, an Interior Ministry spokesperson said there’s no reason to stay away from Christmas markets in Germany. A Christmas market in Berlin was targeted in a deadly attack two years ago.
German authorities confirm said that the suspected attacker previously spent prison time in Germany for robbery but said they had no information on his possible ties to Islamic extremists.