The French authorities have identified the Strasbourg Christmas Market shooter as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt. Witnesses claimed he screamed “Allahu Akbar!” as he opened fire.

He killed four and injured several others in Strasbourg on Tuesday evening.

From The Times of Israel:

Senior Interior Ministry official Laurent Nunez said Chekatt had been radicalized in prison and had been monitored by French intelligence services since his release from jail in late 2015, because of his suspected religious extremism.

Nunez, secretary of state for the Interior Ministry, said on France-Inter radio that police sought to arrest Chekatt on Tuesday morning, hours before the shooting, in relation to an attempted murder. He was not at home but five other people were detained, authorities said.

The government raised the security alert level and sent police reinforcements to Strasbourg, where more than 350 security forces were involved in the massive manhunt. Police officials said he was wounded in a gunfight with soldiers after the Tuesday night attack but escaped, and a top official said he might have fled to neighboring Germany.

The shooting started at 8PM local time at a Christmas market, but “unfolded on different streets in the city.”

The authorities have identified the man, but did not release his name. He has a criminal record and “had been flagged as a suspected extremist.”

France 24 said the police records on the suspect is an S file for security risk, which means “he was considered as posing a serious threat to national security.” It’s the highest warning level in France and allows the authorities to place the suspect under surveillance.

From The Guardian:

Witnesses said he had fired a first series of rounds near the market around 8pm then a second round a few metres further on.

“There were gunshots and people running everywhere,” one local shopkeeper told BFM TV. “It lasted about 10 minutes.”

Two of the injured were said to be in a critical condition.

The public prosecutor declared the incident to be “terrorism” and announced an inquiry had been opened into “assassination and attempted assassination”.

France’s interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said the gunman “has been identified” and was known to police who were searching for him.

The centre of Strasbourg went into lockdown as police asked residents to stay home and restaurants were ordered to close and not let customers leave.

The European Parliament, which is currently sitting in Strasbourg, was put on lockdown, and the parliament’s safety awareness division sent a message to MEPs advising those dining in the city centre to “please stay inside and don’t go out”.

 
 
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