STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) – At least one person was killed and 10 people were wounded in a shooting near a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg on Tuesday, the local prefecture said.
Police officer secures a street and the surrounding area after a shooting in Strasbourg, France, December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
Police locked down the area and launched a hunt for the shooter, who fled the scene, the police sources said. They said the gunman had been identified.
Local authorities told people in the city’s Neudorf area and Etoile park to stay where they were.
“There were gunshots and people running everywhere,” one local shopkeeper told BFM TV. “It lasted about 10 minutes.”
France remains on high alert after a wave of attacks commissioned or inspired by Islamic State militants since early 2015, in which about 240 people have been killed.
The Christmas market was being held amid tight security this year, with unauthorized vehicles banned from surrounding streets during opening hours and checkpoints set up on bridges and access points to search pedestrians’ bags.
A source at the prosecutor’s office said the motive for the shooting was not immediately clear and that an investigation was under way to see if it was terrorism-related.
President Emmanuel Macron was informed of the shooting and was being updated as events unfurled, an Elysee Palace official said. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner was on his way to Strasbourg, which lies on the border with Germany.
Ecology Minister Francois de Rugy tweeted: “Solidarity and support for the people of Strasbourg. Our support too for the security forces. We are united and determined to protect the French people.”
In 2016, a truck plowed into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, killing more than 80, while in November 2015, coordinated attacks on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris claimed about 130 lives. There have also been attacks in Paris on a policeman on the Champs-Elysees avenue, the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher store.
Almost exactly two years ago, a Tunisian Islamist rammed a hijacked truck into a Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 11 people as well as the driver.
Reporting by Gilbert Reilhac in Strasbourg and Christian Hartmann, Emmanuel Jarry, Michel Rose in Paris and Kevin Liffey in London; writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Kevin Liffey