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Three Dead, Many Injured After Shooting at Christmas Market in France

© REUTERS / Vincent KesslerPolice secure a street and the surrounding area after a shooting in Strasbourg
Police secure a street and the surrounding area after a shooting in Strasbourg - Sputnik International
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Police in the French city of Strasbourg have reported that a shooting attack occurred near the city's famous Christmas Market. Three people were killed in the shooting and another 12 were injured, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Wednesday.

"Here, in Strasbourg, from 19.50 [local time, 18.50 GMT on Tuesday] a man… killed three people, another 12 were injured," French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said. He added that the six victims were in critical condition.

The minister also said that France would raise the security threat level and strengthen border controls as well as counter-terrorism measures.

"Currently, the anti-terrorism measures have been boosted in France," he said at a press conference in Strasbourg. "The authorities decided to declare terrorism alert. Enhanced control at borders will be implemented. Also, enhanced control will be exercised in all Christmas markets in the country," the minister said.

The suspect is still at large; about an hour after the shots were reported, a police source revealed that a suspect had been identified and police were in pursuit, even exchanging gunfire with him, according to AFP. Police are reported to be conducting an operation in the city's Neudorf District, where the suspect is said to be hiding after wounding a French security officer.

Castaner said that about 350 law enforcement officers are involved in the search for the shooter. "Currently, 350 people are mobilized to catch him," Castaner said at a press conference in Strasbourg.

He noted that they included 100 employees of the judicial police, as well as servicemen of Operation Sentinelle. Two helicopters are also involved in the search for the suspect.

The French Interior Ministry has called on the public to remain indoors as the "serious security event" unfolds. Strasbourg authorities repeated the call for residents to remain sheltered.

Alleged footage of the gunshots shows people crowded in a narrow street as five shots can be heard ringing out. French media later reported, citing authorities, that the attacker had used both a knife and a gun in the attack. 

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said earlier the 29-year-old suspected gunman was known to police as a security risk, and it was later reported that he was due to be arrested Tuesday morning for a robbery, but couldn't be located. Grenades were reportedly found during the search of his house.

France's counterterrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation into the incident, the prosecutor announced.

​European Parliament member Martina Anderson reported on Twitter she was in the market and heard gunshots. Others posted photos on social media of police responding to the attack. The European Parliament itself was placed on lockdown as news of the shooting broke, and staff told to remain inside. 

Police cordoned off the area and people inside were evacuated immediately after the incident.

​Injured and fleeing people were recorded seconds after the attack.

​The capital of the Grand Est region of France, on the German border, Strasbourg is where the European Parliament is located. The EU's legislative body's plenary session is presently being held.

The Christmas Market, near the city's cathedral, is one of Europe's oldest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It attracts millions of visitors each year.

 

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