Europe

Strasbourg shootings: Armed police mount operation in Neudorf district

Members of the French police special forces take part in an operation on December 13, 2018 in the Neudorf neighbourhood of Strasbourg, Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police special forces were seen in the Neudorf neighbourhood on Thursday afternoon

Police in the French city of Strasbourg have carried out a security operation in the district of Neudorf as they continue their hunt for the gunman who attacked a Christmas market on Tuesday.

Cherif Chekatt, 29, has been on the run since the attack, which left three people dead and many more injured.

He was dropped off in Neudorf by a taxi which he commandeered to leave the city centre.

Hundreds of police are hunting for him in France and Germany.

The suspect was wounded in an exchange of fire with soldiers during the attack.

It is not known whether the armed officers in Neudorf were searching directly for Chekatt, a convicted criminal who became a radical Islamist while in prison.

French media reported that members of police special forces had sealed off several streets in the area. No arrests were made.

Earlier on Thursday, French officials confirmed that a third person had died of their injuries following the attack.

A fourth person is described as brain-dead, and 12 more are injured, several of them seriously.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has told parliament that 720 police officers and other members of the security forces were searching for the gunman.

German authorities are also hunting for Chekatt, amid fears he may have fled over the nearby border.

Strasbourg's Christmas market - usually a major draw for tourists - remained closed on Thursday.

French officials urged "gilets jaunes" (yellow-vest) protesters to call off demonstrations planned for Saturday to enable authorities to maintain security in the run-up to Christmas.

Meanwhile, a fifth person has been taken into custody by investigators. The suspect's parents and two of his brothers had already been detained for questioning. The fifth person is not related to Chekatt, officials said.

What do we know about the suspect?

According to police, Cherif Chekatt was born in Strasbourg and was already known to the security services as a possible Islamist terrorist threat.

He was the subject of a "fiche S", a watchlist of people who represent a potential threat to national security.

Image copyright Police Nationale (France)

He has 27 convictions for crimes including robbery spanning France, Germany and Switzerland, and has spent considerable time in prison as a result.

Police were seeking him on Tuesday morning in connection with another case, but did not find him at home.

A search of his apartment in Neudorf revealed a grenade, a rifle, four knives - two of which were hunting knives - and ammunition.

Who were the victims of the attack?

The death of Kamal Naghchband, originally from Afghanistan, was announced on Thursday. The father of three died in hospital. His mosque announced that his funeral will take place after Friday prayers.

A retired bank worker aged 61, from Strasbourg, was also killed in the attack, according to Le Figaro.

The third victim is believed to be a Thai tourist who was on holiday with his wife. Anupong Suebsamarn, 45, has been named by Thai media as one of the dead.

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