French alert level raised after Strasbourg shooting
French ministers have issued a maximum level of alert as police hunt a gunman who started shooting at a Christmas market in Strasbourg.
The gunman, a 29-year-old known to authorities, killed three people and wounded at least 13 more after opening fire at Strasbourg's famed Christmas market, near Place Kléber, which attracts thousands of visitors at this time of year.
Witnesses say that the gunman, who local media have named as Chérif Chekatt, exchanged fire with officers who were patrolling the area as part of anti-terror measures. After cutting off roads in and out of the city, police launched a massive operation involving 350 police gendarmes and soldiers, as well as helicopters, to find the suspect.
The city, which hosts the European Parliament, has now closed the market and continued with banning protests in the city, as France enters yet another day of protesting against political distrust of poorer working families.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said France had issued an emergency attack alert, expanding police powers and creating the highest degree of vigilance. It has been reported that border controls have also been strengthened and security at all Christmas markets will be stepped up.
The Paris public prosecutor Rémy Heitz has since told reporters that the gunman yelled ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is greatest’ in Arabic) as he opened fire.