Fourth Person Dies After Strasbourg Christmas Market Shooting

French hunt for possible accomplices of Strasbourg attacker

Interior minister Christophe Castaner attended the reopening of the Christmas market and had a stroll in the market to meet shopkeepers.

People began returning to the area on December 13 with many marking their respects for the victims by leaving candles in the main Kleber square.

Security forces, including the elite Raid squad, spent hours searching in the Neudorf neighbourhood where Chekatt had grown up based on "supposition only" he might have been hiding in a building nearby, a French police official said.

Before carrying out the mass shooting which killed three people and injured 12 others, he had been convicted of a number of crimes and had become a radical Islamist during a prison term.

"Around 9 p.m. local time three police saw someone strolling that looked like the suspect, the French interior minister said at a press conference".

The 29-year-old Strasbourg native, armed with a firearm and a knife, opened fire several times and stabbed people Tuesday near Place Kleber and the Grand'Rue, one of the city's main shopping streets where Christmas market is held every year.

The Strasbourg shooting was the latest in a series of deadly attacks that have claimed more than 200 lives in France since 2015.

Questions remain over how Chekatt was able to evade the tight security perimeter set up around the Christmas market, which has always been a prime target for militant groups. This is our history, it is common and belongs to all the French. "And this morning, we wanted to show, as we walked down the lanes, that we always know how to get our head up again".

Three officers patrolling in Neudorf spotted a man corresponding to the suspect's description.

Around 500 police, security agents and soldiers control access at checkpoints on the bridges leading to the river island, a UN World Heritage site, that houses the market. Noticing their marked police auto, the suspect tried unsuccessfully to enter a building.

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"When the individual turned and shot at the police, they immediately returned fire and neutralised the assailant", Castaner said.

A total of 720 police officers, supported by two helicopters, had been involved in a huge manhunt for the attacker.

Police are now focusing their investigation on whether Chekatt had any help in carrying out his attack or while on the run.

The immediate aftermath of the shootout was caught on camera from across the street, with video footage showing armed officers at the scene and a body slumped in a doorway.

More officers arrive at the scene soon after, followed by crime scene investigators who take photos of the body and the surroundings.

The suspect, 29-year old Cherif Chekatt, was formally identified by the Paris prosecutor's office which investigates terrorism cases in France.

Chekatt, who lived in a rundown apartment block a short drive from the city centre, was flagged by French security forces in 2015 as a possible Islamic extremist.

Chekatt allegedly shouted "God is great!" in Arabic and sprayed gunfire from a security zone near the Christmas market Tuesday evening.

French soldiers, who are part of anti-terrorism patrols across the country, had shot him in the arm but he managed to escape and elude capture for 48 hours. He served jail time in France, Germany and Switzerland.

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