Strasbourg Christmas market attacker killed

French police have shot dead Cherif Chekatt, the man who attacked Strasbourg's Christmas market on Tuesday

Three people have died following the shooting at the market and several more were seriously injured
Three people have died following the shooting at the market and several more were seriously injured

French police have shot dead the man who attacked Strasbourg's Christmas market on Tuesday, France's interior minister has said.

A police unit came across Cherif Chekatt in a Strasbourg street and shot him after he opened fire.

Three people died following the shooting at the market, and several more were seriously injured.

Chekatt, 29, had a string of criminal convictions in France and Germany and had become a radical Islamist in jail.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said three police officers had spotted a man matching Chekatt's description on rue du Lazaret, in the Neudorf area of Strasbourg at 9pm local time.

As the police moved to stop him, the suspect turned round and opened fire. They fired back and "neutralised" the attacker, said Castaner, who later went to the scene.

Hundreds of French police and security forces had been searching for Chekatt, with a large police operation having taken place in Neudorf earlier on Thursday, but this apparently ended without results.

Five people had arrested in connection with the attack, including Cherif Chekatt's parents and two of his brothers.

Strasbourg mayor Roland Ries said that finding Chekatt meant the worried people of his city would now be able to return to a normal life.

Castaner thanked security forces in a tweet.

How the attack unfolded

At about 8pm local time on Tuesday, a man opened fire close to the famed Christmas market near Place Kléber, which attracts thousands of visitors.

France's anti-terror prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, said the man had shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest") as he opened fire.

The suspect was armed with a gun and a knife and escaped the area after commandeering a taxi, Heitz said.

As he fled he came into contact with four soldiers, Heitz said, and began firing at them. The soldiers fired back, apparently hitting him in the arm.

The attacker boasted to the taxi driver that he had killed 10 people, and also said he had been injured during a firefight with soldiers.

He ordered the taxi driver to drop him near the police station in Neudorf. When he got out of the vehicle, he fired at police officers before escaping.

Chekatt was born in Strasbourg and was already known to the security services.

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

He had 27 convictions for crimes including robbery spanning France, Germany and Switzerland, and had 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.

The Islamic State group's self-styled news agency, Amaq, on Thursday said that Chekatt was "an Islamic State soldier" who had "carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting citizens of coalition countries" fighting its militants in Syria and Iraq.

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