Updated | Gunman at large after three killed and 12 injured

Three people have been killed and 12 others wounded in the shooting • the gunman is currently at large and being hunted down by French police • Ambassador Helga Mizzi confirms all known Maltese are safe • Maltese MEP delegations are safe

French police in Strasbourg have cordoned off the area and trains have been stopped
French police in Strasbourg have cordoned off the area and trains have been stopped
Strasbourg Christmas market shooting - witness videos

Updated at 7:45am

Hundreds of police officers are hunting a gunman after three people were killed and 12 others wounded in a shooting in the eastern French city of Strasbourg.

The suspect, who is known to security services, escaped after exchanging fire with soldiers and armed police on Tuesday. He is believed to be injured.

The shooting happened close to a popular Christmas market near one of the central squares, Place Kléber.

France's counter terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation.

However the motive for the incident remains unclear.

"He fought twice with our security forces," French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

Confirming that three people had died, Castaner said that border controls had been strengthened and security at all Christmas markets would be stepped up, with 350 security agents hunting for the gunman.

He added that France had raised its security alert level to "emergency attack".

Six of those reportedly injured on Tuesday were said to be in a serious condition, while six others suffered light injuries, police said.

Police added that the 29-year-old suspect was born in Strasbourg and was already known to the security services as a possible terrorist threat.

According to France's BFM TV the man had fled his flat in the Neudorf district of the city on Tuesday morning as it was being searched by police in connection with a robbery.

Grenades were found during the search.

Residents in Neudorf were urged to stay indoors following unconfirmed reports that the suspect had been tracked down and cornered by police in the area.

The European Parliament, which is nearby, was placed on lockdown. The parliament's president, Antonio Tajani, tweeted to say it would "not be intimidated by terrorist or criminal attacks".

French President Emmanuel Macron, who had attended a crisis meeting with cabinet officials in Paris, later tweeted that the "solidarity of the entire nation" was with Strasbourg, the victims and their families.

Another eyewitness, who gave his name as Fatih, told AFP news agency that after the shots were fired there was "pandemonium" on the streets.

"People were running everywhere," he said.

Local journalist Bruno Poussard wrote on Twitter that there had been a dozen shots fired on his street in the city centre - one or two to begin with, then in bursts.

Emmanuel Foulon, a press officer for the European Parliament, wrote that there was "panic" in the centre following the sound of gunfire and that police with guns were running through the streets.

A shopkeeper told BFM TV, "there were gun shots and people running everywhere. It lasted about 10 minutes."

The mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, later tweeted that the Christmas market would be closed on Wednesday following events. He added that flags would be lowered to half-mast at the local Town Hall, where people could to pay their respects in a book of condolences.

Ambassador to France Helga Mizzi, confirmed in a post on Facebook in the early hours of Monday morning that all known Maltese in Strasbourg are safe.

Previously, one person was believed to have been killed - with Maltese MEPs checking in on twitter to mark themselves as safe

Reports have emerged of a shooting carried out in the Christmas market in the city of Strasbourg, France.

One person has been killed and three were injured in the shooting, according to emergency workers.

Police are in the area. Security officials have cordoned off the area and trains have been stopped.

The local fire department said that several shots had been fired on Tuesday evening in the centre of the city, on the German border.

One source told Reuters that the shooting took place near the city’s iconic Christmas market. The interior minstry described the incident as a “serious security event” and warned the public to stay indoors.

The local prefecture tweeted that people should avoid the area near the city’s police headquarters. Earlier the prefecture tweeted: “Incident happening in Strasbourg, do not relay false rumours.”

Members of the European Parliament are in town for their regular plenary session. The European Parliament activated emergency protocol and MEPs and staff are currently in lockdown to safeguard people there. Labour MEP Miriam Dalli and Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola marked themselves as safe on Twitter.

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