Friday 27th November 2020

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  • Police hunt Strasbourg Christmas market attacker across eastern France

    Police-hunt-Strasbourg-Christmas-market-attacker-across-eastern-France-1

    Police searched through eastern France on Wednesday for a man suspected of killing at least three people in a gun attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg and who was known to have been religiously radicalized while in jail.

    Witnesses told investigators the assailant cried out “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greater) as he launched his attack on the market, said the Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz, who suggested the suspect may have chosen his target for its religious symbolism.

    “Considering the target, his way of operating, his profile and the testimonies of those who heard him yell ‘Allahu Akbar’, the anti-terrorist police have been called into action,” said Heitz.

    Police issued a wanted poster for the suspect identified as Strasbourg-born Cherif Chekatt, 29, who is on an intelligence services watch list as a potential security risk.

     

    Police-hunt-Strasbourg-Christmas-market-attacker-across-eastern-France-2An investigation had been opened into alleged murder with terrorist intent and suspected ties to terrorist networks with intent to commit crimes, Heitz said.

    Six other victims were fighting for their lives, said Heitz.

    France raised its security threat to the highest alert level, strengthening controls on its border with Germany as elite commandos backed by helicopters hunted for the suspect.

    French and German agents checked vehicles and public transport crossing the Rhine river, along which the Franco-German frontier runs, backing up traffic in both directions. Hundreds of French troops and police were taking part in the manhunt.

     

    Police-hunt-Strasbourg-Christmas-market-attacker-across-eastern-France-3

    An investigation had been opened into alleged murder with terrorist intent and suspected ties to terrorist networks with intent to commit crimes, Heitz said.

    Six other victims were fighting for their lives, said Heitz.

    France raised its security threat to the highest alert level, strengthening controls on its border with Germany as elite commandos backed by helicopters hunted for the suspect.

    French and German agents checked vehicles and public transport crossing the Rhine river, along which the Franco-German frontier runs, backing up traffic in both directions. Hundreds of French troops and police were taking part in the manhunt.

     

    Police-hunt-Strasbourg-Christmas-market-attacker-across-eastern-France-4

     

    French and German security officials painted a portrait of Chekatt as a serial law-breaker who had racked up more than two dozen convictions in France, Germany and Switzerland, and served time in prison.

    “It was during these spells in jail that we detected a radicalization in his religious practices. But there were never signs he was preparing an attack,” Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said.

    The attack took place at a testing time for President Emmanuel Macron, who is struggling to quell a month-long public revolt over high living costs that has spurred the worst public unrest in central Paris since the 1968 student riots.

    Police had raided the suspect’s home early on Tuesday in connection with a homicide investigation. Five people were detained and under interrogation as part of that investigation.

     

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