Police hunt through eastern France for Strasbourg Christmas market attacker

A soldier secures an area where a suspect is sought after a shooting in Strasbourg, France.

File: A soldier secures an area where a suspect is sought after a shooting in Strasbourg, France.

Reuters

STRASBOURG, France - Police searched through eastern France on Wednesday for a man suspected of killing at least two people in a gun attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg and who was known to have been religiously radicalised while in jail.

Witnesses told investigators the assailant cried out "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greater) as he launched his attack on the market, the Paris prosecutor said.

The prosecutor, Remy Heitz, also suggested the suspect may have chosen his target for its religious symbolism.

"Considering the target, his way of operating, his profile and the testimonies of those who heard him yell 'Allahu Akbar', the anti-terrorist police has been called into action," Heitz told a news conference.

Police identified the suspect as Strasbourg-born Cherif Chekatt, who is on an intelligence services watch list as a potential security risk.

READ: Gunman on run after killing three at Strasbourg Christmas market

An investigation had been opened into alleged murder with terrorist intent and suspected ties to terrorist networks with intent to commit crimes, Heitz said.

Two people were killed and a third person was brain-dead and being kept alive on life support, he said. Six other victims were fighting for their lives.

France raised its security threat to the highest alert level, strengthening controls on its border with Germany as elite commandos backed by helicopters hunted for the suspect.

French and German agents checked vehicles and public transport crossing the Rhine river, along which the Franco-German frontier runs, backing up traffic in both directions. Hundreds of French troops and police were taking part in the manhunt.

Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said he could not rule out that the fugitive had already crossed the frontier.

Source
Reuters