Strasbourg Christmas market reopens after attack

The Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg has reopened, two days after the attack carried out by a gunman on Tuesday evening.

Cherif Chekatt was killed on Thursday by police on a city street after he opened fire on officers.

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

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner is visiting the market as it reopens, talking to stallholders.

Strasbourg's mayor Roland Ries said security would be tight: "We have restricted the number of entrances with checkpoints, body searches and bag searches. We have reduced [the number of entry points] for greater control, with a better distribution of police forces," he told French radio.

The city had been in lockdown after the attack while more than 700 police and soldiers hunted down the suspected 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.

Embedded videoThe #Strasbourg Christmas markets have just reopened again 2 days after the shooting attack, and the morning after police killed the gunman. Market traders say it’s very quiet, compared to the thousands usually here,packing the streets, but they’re glad to doing business again

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 mistakeser we 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.

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.

Police notice for Cherif ChekattImage copyrightPOLICE NATIONALE 

French President Emmanuel Macron earlier thanked security forces in a tweet, vowing that the country's commitment against terrorism is "total."

Hundreds of French police and security forces had been searching for Chekatt.

A large police operation had taken place in Neudorf earlier on Thursday afternoon, but ended without results.

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.

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

Mr Castaner thanked security forces in a tweet:

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

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 near place Kléber.

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.

Route of Strasbourg attacker map

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.

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.

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.

Who were the victims of the attack?

Three people died in Tuesday's attack, and one has been declared brain-dead, Mr Heitz said on Friday.

The death of Kamal Naghchband, a garage mechanic originally from Afghanistan, was announced on Thursday. 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.View image on Twitter

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

The third victim was a Thai tourist who was on holiday with his wife.

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha sent a letter of condolence to his French counterpart on Thursday that confirmed the man was among the dead, AFP reports.

Anupong Suebsamarn, 45, has been named by Thai media as the victim.

ruby Posted on December 14, 2018 15:11

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