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French Police Kill Suspect in Deadly Shooting at Strasbourg Christmas Market


French police forces block a street during an operation in the Neudorf district of Strasbourg, eastern France, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.

French police have shot dead the gunman suspected of killing three people late Tuesday at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, according to multiple media reports.

More than 700 officers had been hunting Cherif Chekatt since the attack, which also injured 13 people.

Hundreds of police cordoned off an area in the Neudorf district, a short drive from where the suspect exchanged gunfire with police.

Authorities said the 29-year-old Chekatt was on a watch list of suspected extremists. The gunman's motive is unknown.

Islamic State takes responsibility

In a tweet Thursday, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. The gunman in "the attack in the city of Strasbourg ... is one of the soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of the coalition" against IS, the terror group's propaganda agency Amaq said in a message posted on Twitter.‚Äč

France raised its security threat level to "emergency attack," its highest level, adding tighter border controls and boosting security at other Christmas markets.

Police secure area where a suspect is sought after a shooting in Strasbourg, France, Dec. 12, 2018.
Police secure area where a suspect is sought after a shooting in Strasbourg, France, Dec. 12, 2018.

Suspect deported to France?

Germany's Interior Ministry spokeswoman Eleonore Petermann said the suspect was convicted in Germany in 2016 and reportedly was deported to France last year.

Petermann said the German government has increased controls on its borders in response to the attack but did not raise the threat level in the country.

Strasbourg is headquarters of the European Parliament. The building was put on temporary lockdown after the shooting.

The market is set up around the Strasbourg cathedral and attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. Authorities say they have long been on the alert for an attack on the market since a foiled terror plot in Strasbourg on New Year's Eve in 1999.

France is no stranger to extremist attacks. Islamic State claimed responsibility for two nights of bombings and shootings in Paris in November 2015, killing 130, months after a deadly shooting at a French satirical magazine, and hostage-taking in a kosher supermarket.

A 2016 terrorist truck attack in Nice left 86 people dead.