Strasbourg-born Cherif Chekatt, 29, a known radical Muslim with a criminal record, gunned down crowds at the Strasbourg Christmas market Tuesday night, Dec. 11. At least three people were killed on the spot and another 12 injured, six in critical condition. The gunman was able to shoot from three points and get into two gunfights with soldiers before escaping in a taxi. He is suspected either of having gone to ground among the Muslim community of the city, from which radicals were arrested over the years for joining ISIS in Syria, or crossed the nearby border into Germany, where he has contacts in radical Muslim circles. Grenades were found during a search at his home.
Police are investigating how an armed terrorist was able to enter the Christmas market when entrances were guarded and move around freely with hundreds of soldiers on patrol. France is already on anti-terror alert. On Wednesday, schools and public institutions were shut down Wednesday and extra guards posted at Jewish schools and institutions. President Emmanuel Macron has taken charge of the event from the Interior Ministry in Paris.
The Strasbourg-based European Parliament which was in plenary session was placed on lockdown during the shooting, with hundreds of MEPs, staff and journalists unable to leave the building. A total of 246 people have been killed in terror attacks in France since 2015.