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Home News Strasbourg shooting suspect, ID’d as extremist, still at large; 5 others arrested...

Strasbourg shooting suspect, ID’d as extremist, still at large; 5 others arrested (FRANCE)

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A suspect who opened fire at a Christmas market in eastern France leaving three dead and 11 others wounded and fled the scene was identified as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, police said Wednesday.

A wide scale manhunt was underway near Strasbourg as the French government raised the security level and sent police reinforcements to the city, located about 305 miles east of Paris.

Chekatt was wounded in a gunfight with soldiers after the Tuesday night attack and escaped, police officials said. A top French official said he might have fled to neighboring Germany.

A photo of what appears to be Chekatt was released on social media Wednesday. Dominque Martin, a member of European Parliament, tweeted the photo.

Nunez said Chekatt had been radicalized in prison and had been monitored by French intelligence services since his release from jail in 2015, because of his suspected religious extremism.

He was the subject of a “fiche S” – an indicator used by French law enforcement to signal potential national security threats, according to BBC. It’s the same tag Amedy Coulibaly had received before he attacked a kosher supermarket in 2015.

Chekatt is said to have a long rap sheet in France, including crimes for robbery. He also was convicted of robbery in Germany in 2016 and sentenced to two years and three months in prison for breaking into a dental practice and pharmacy in two German towns.

He was also sentenced to prison in France in 2008 and in Basel, Switzerland, in 2013 for other robberies, according to a 2016 verdict obtained by the Associated Press. He was reportedly deported to France in 2016.

Witnesses described screams around the Strasbourg market during the attack. Strasbourg – which is home to the European Parliament – bills itself as the “capital of Christmas”

“I heard two or three shots at around 7:55 p.m., then I heard screams. I got close to the window. I saw people running. After that I closed the shutters. Then I heard more shots, closer this time,” Youann Bazard, 27, told the Associated Press.

“I thought maybe it’s firecrackers,” he said. “And then, as it got close, it was really shocking. There were a lot of screams. … There were police or soldiers shouting ‘Get inside!’ and ‘Put your hands on your head.”

The motive for the attack wasn’t immediately known. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence group said Islamic State supporters were celebrating, according to Reuters.

Islamic terrorists have a history of plotting assaults at Christmas markets — including one disrupted plot in which nearly a dozen militants sought to bomb the Strasbourg market around the millennium.

More recently, On Dec. 19, 2016, an ISIS-inspired attacker rammed his truck into a crowd of people at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring 56 others.

Fox News’ Cody Derespina and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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