Strasbourg attack: Armed cops cordon off area after market shooting

Four Dead, 11 Shot Near Strasbourg Christmas Market

Castaner also said France had raised its security alert level to "emergency attack" with "the implementation of reinforced border controls and tightened controls on all Christmas markets in France to avoid the risk of a copycat" attack.

According to Paris prosecutor Remi Heitz, witnesses reported hearing the gunman shout "Allahu Akbar", Arabic for "Allah is the greatest", during the onslaught.

The suspected shooter, a 29-year-old from the south of the city, was on a watchlist of suspected extremists and was "actively being hunted by security forces", local officials said.

There was no word on what, if anything, the Thursday evening operation had uncovered.

An official announcement from the French equivalent of the Home Office advised people in Strasbourg to remain indoors following the incident, which began at about 8pm local time, just as the market was coming to a close.

A neighbor, who asked not to be named because the gunman was still at large, said he was rarely home.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said by age 10 the suspect "already had behavior that fell under penal law".

He said two people were killed outright, while a third was left in a vegetative state.

President Emmanuel Macron, who attended an Interdepartmental Crisis Centre meeting, left without speaking to reporters but later tweeted the "solidarity of the entire nation is with Strasbourg, the victims and their families".

Police are now guarding the building where Chekatt is believed to have lived, which is in an outer neighborhood of Strasbourg.

It took European authorities four months to apprehend Salah Abdesalam, the lone surviving suspect from the multiple November 2015 attacks in Paris, tracking him down eventually in Molenbeek, Brussels - a known Islamic terrorist hot spot in the Belgian capital. Traffic on the French side was heavily backed up as officers inspected vehicles during the morning rush hour.

Security has been stepped up in recent years after a series of attacks in France by Islamist gunmen and the Strasbourg market was long considered a possible target.

Four people connected to him were detained in Strasbourg overnight, he added.

The suspect was still on the run on Wednesday after he fired gunshots near the famous Christmas market of Strasbourg, killing three and wounding at least 13.

The man opened fire in three areas of the Christmas market, which draws hundreds of thousands of people each year to its wooden chalets selling festive decorations, mulled wine and food.

Chekatt's police file photo shows a bearded man of North African descent, with a prayer bruise on the centre of his forehead. He has 27 criminal convictions for theft and violence, and has spent time in French, German and Swiss jails.

Neighbours on the housing estate where Chekatt family's lived described the suspect as a typical young man who dressed in jogging trousers and trainers rather than traditional Islamic robes. It quoted his uncle as saying he and his wife had originally planned to visit Paris, but the protests there prompted them to change plans and go to Strasbourg instead.

Strasborurg Mayor Roland Ries said the shooting was "indisputably ... a form of terrorist attack".

French authorities said Chekatt, born in Strasbourg, appeared on a watch list of people flagged for extremist views.

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