French authorities have detained five people in connection with a manhunt for a suspected extremist who fatally shot three and wounded 11 near a Christmas market in Strasbourg Tuesday evening before fleeing the scene, according to reports.
The gunman, who is believed to be injured, remains on the loose.
he suspect is a 29-year-old who was on a watch list of potentially radicalized people and had convictions in France and Germany for crimes unrelated to terrorism and served time in prison, French officials said. Authorities did not name him publicly or provide further details.
The suspect opened fire in downtown Strasbourg on Orfevre Street around 8 p.m. local time, government authorities said on Twitter. Part of the shooting took place in a Christmas market at Rue des Grandes Arcades before spilling into different streets in the city, Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries said.
Police said the suspect was shot and wounded before fleeing the area. Laurent Nunez, secretary of state for the interior ministry, said Wednesday on France-Inter radio that the attacker could have fled to neighboring Germany.
Authorities had reportedly gone to the suspect’s home hours before the shooting to arrest him, but he wasn’t there, a police union official said, adding that explosive materials were found during a search of his home. It wasn’t immediately clear why they were making an arrest.
The government has sent police reinforcements to the city where some 250 security forces are searching for the suspect. It is unclear if the Christmas market was the suspect’s intended target but French officials said they have opened a terrorism investigation.
Authorities urged people to stay inside following the shooting, but Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries told reporters early Wednesday that “life must go on” so that the city doesn’t give in to a “terrorist who is trying to disrupt our way of life.”
Strasbourg, located about 310 miles east of Paris and near the German border, is considered one of Europe’s capitals and home to the European Parliament. The Christmas market is one of the country’s largest and is set up around the city’s cathedral during the holiday season. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was a popular gathering place for Al Qaeda affiliates.
Fox News’ Elizabeth Zwirz and The Associated Press contributed to this repo