Shots heard, police say Strasbourg gunman dead

Four Dead, 11 Shot Near Strasbourg Christmas Market

"The death toll, still provisional, is now set at three dead, five seriously wounded and eight minor injuries", Bas-Rhin prefecture was quoted as saying by local media.

One French police official said security forces, including the elite Raid squad, are taking action on Thursday based on a "supposition only" that the suspect, 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, could be hiding in a nearby building.

Chekatt was said to have entered central Strasbourg via the Corbeau bridge to the south of the city centre, before heading to Rue des Orfevres, a popular shopping street close to the cathedral, where he opened fire. The Christmas market was closed at least through Thursday, authorities said.

The 29-year-old was armed with a gun and a knife and escaped the area in a taxi, Mr Heitz said.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking in Brussels where he is attending a European summit, said Interior minister Christophe Castaner will travel to Strasbourg on Thursday evening.

Police secure area where a suspect is sought after a shooting in Strasbourg, France, Dec. 12, 2018.

Castaner also said France had raised its security alert level to "emergency attack" with "the implementation of reinforced border controls and tightened controls on all Christmas markets in France to avoid the risk of a copycat" attack.

"Once again, terrorism has struck our territory, in Strasbourg", said Paris Prosecutor Rémy Heitz, whose office leads terrorism investigations across the country.

Reflecting Strasbourg's worldwide nature, the dead included a Thai tourist, and an Italian was reportedly among the wounded.

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Senior Interior Ministry official Laurent Nunez said the suspect had been radicalized in prison and had been monitored by French intelligence services since his release in late 2015, because of his suspected religious extremism.

It is not known whether the armed officers in Neudorf were searching directly for Chekatt, a convicted criminal who became a radical Islamist while in prison.

The suspected attacker's more than two dozen convictions also included crimes in Germany and Switzerland, according to court documents seen by The Associated Press.

In November 2015, some 130 people were killed in Paris in coordinated jihadist attacks on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites. "He said he tried to resuscitate him but the man died".

Peter Fritz said after the gunfire near a Christmas market: "We tried our best to resuscitate him".

Another victim was a Strasbourg resident, Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries told French TV.

Der Spiegel reported that the terrorist had been in jail in Germany until 2017, but was then expelled to France. It was about 7.30pm and we hadn't even ordered anything when all of a sudden we heard gunshots and screams.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament, which is conducting its plenary session this week, was put on lockdown as reports started to surface of the attack at around 8pm local time.

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