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in France, Manhunt Continues for Strasbourg Attacker


A French gendarme secures a street at the scene of a police operation the day after a shooting in Strasbourg, Dec. 12, 2018.

French police continue hunting for a man who opened fire in the eastern city of Strasbourg, killing at least two people and wounding a dozen others.

A view shows an empty alley of the traditional Christkindelsmaerik (Christ Child market) closed the day after a shooting in Strasbourg, France, Dec. 12, 2018.
A view shows an empty alley of the traditional Christkindelsmaerik (Christ Child market) closed the day after a shooting in Strasbourg, France, Dec. 12, 2018.

Holiday festivities in the ancient city of Strasbourg took a grim turn Tuesday night, as a gunman opened fire on the annual Christmas market and and French soldiers and police. People ran screaming for shelter and authorities tightened border controls with nearby Germany.

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.

Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz identified the suspect as 29-year-old Cherif C., a Strasbourg native with more than two dozen criminal convictions in France, Germany and Switzerland, who has served multiple sentences. Heitz said he was radicalized and proselytized in jail. He said the suspect, whom media identify as Cherif Chekatt, had cried "Allahu Akbar" as he was shooting and also wielding a knife.

Heitz said the man also traded fire with French military and police officers, but escaped arrest by hijacking a taxi. He has been wounded, and authorities have detained four people in connection to him. Tuesday's shooting came just hours after French police raided his apartment, finding a grenade, firearms and knives. He had been under surveillance for suspected radicalism.

Shaken witnesses described panic as the suspect opened fire. This man told AFP news agency he heard shots ring out, people fleeing and children crying. He took refuge in a restaurant.

A placard reads "Tribute to the victims. I am Strasbourg", in Strasbourg, eastern France, Dec. 12, 2018.
A placard reads "Tribute to the victims. I am Strasbourg", in Strasbourg, eastern France, Dec. 12, 2018.

This is not the first time Strasbourg, home to the European parliament and rights court, has been targeted for a terror attack. Authorities intercepted a planned attack in 2000 on the city's cathedral. This latest incident comes three years after major terror attacks in Paris, and as France is recovering from several weeks of violent protests over the high cost of living.

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