US & World

Strasbourg Christmas market shooting: Fourth victim dies

People look at candles, letters and flowers at the Christmas Market in Strasbourg on 14 December 2018Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Strasbourg Christmas market is one of Europe’s busiest

A fourth victim has died following the gun attack on the Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg, the Paris prosecutor’s office has said.

The suspect in Tuesday’s attack, Cherif Chekatt, was shot dead by a police patrol after he opened fire from a doorway on Thursday evening.

President Emmanuel Macron is expected to arrive in Strasbourg later.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner visited the market when it reopened to the public on Friday.

French media say a fifth victim is brain dead following the attack and 11 others remain wounded, four of whom are in hospital.

The attack had locked down the city, with more than 700 police and soldiers hunting the gunman.

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

Will Strasbourg’s festive crowds come back?

By Gavin Lee, BBC News, Strasbourg

Signs of normal life are returning to the centre of Strasbourg, now the manhunt is over.

As security officials allowed the Christmas Markets to reopen, small groups filtered in.

But the city that promotes itself as the capital of Christmas doesn’t feel like that just yet, as the big festive crowds that Strasbourg is famous for have not yet returned.

Traders say the fear factor appears to have put off many tourists, but they’re relieved that they are back in business and that the city has moved on quickly.

In place Kléber, where the gun attack unfolded, people have brought flowers and candles to place underneath the Christmas tree at the market entrance. Armed military police patrol in groups of four.

Three kilometres (two miles) south of here in Neudorf, investigators are attempting to retrace the steps that Cherif Chekatt may have taken as he hid for 48 hours.

The investigation will also look at what mistakes were made in police surveillance methods after the suspect was released from prison and added to a security watch list of those monitored for extremist behaviour.

How was Chekatt found?

After an appeal for witnesses, the security forces received 800 calls from the public and quickly focused their search on the Neudorf area, where Chekatt was last seen after the attack, France’s anti-terror prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, said on Friday.

As a result of two significant reports, an extensive police operation involving a helicopter was launched on Thursday evening at 19:30 local time (18:30 GMT).

At 21:00, officers in a police car noticed a man, whose description matched that of the suspect, walking down rue du Lazaret, Mr Heitz said.

Image copyright Police Nationale (France)

The man noticed the police car and tried to enter a building at number 74, but could not get in. The officers identified themselves, and the man turned around, pointing a gun – similar to the one used in Tuesday’s attack – and fired in their direction, hitting their car, he said.

Two of the three officers fired back several times and killed the suspect. He was identified through his fingerprints and declared dead at 21:05.

The officers found an old gun, still loaded, some ammunition and a knife on his body.

Mr Macron earlier thanked security forces in a tweet, vowing that the country’s commitment against terrorism is “total.”

Seven people have been arrested in connection with the attack: Cherif Chekatt’s parents and two of his brothers, as well as three other people close to him, Mr Heitz said.

How did Tuesday’s attack unfold?

At about 20:00 local time (19:00 GMT), a man opened fire close to the famed Christmas market.

Mr 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 jumping into a taxi, Mr Heitz said.

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

The attacker told the taxi driver 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.

What do we know about the suspect?

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

He was on the “fiche S” watchlist of people who represent a potential threat to national security.

Image copyright BBC/Gavin Lee
Image caption Bullet holes could be seen in the door where Chekatt had been hiding before he died

He had 27 convictions for crimes including robbery spanning France, Germany and Switzerland, and had spent considerable time in prison as a result.

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.

Who were the victims of the attack?

Among the victims was Kamal Naghchband, a garage mechanic originally from Afghanistan. The father of three died in hospital. His mosque announced his funeral would take place after Friday prayers. He had been visiting the market with his family and was shot in the head, his cousin told the AFP news agency.

A retired bank worker aged 61, from Strasbourg, was also killed in the attack, according to media reports.

A Thai tourist, named by Thai media as Anupong Suebsamarn, 45, who was on holiday with his wife, also died.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-46564086

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *