On Tuesday, just weeks after a number of migrant inspired incidents took place at Christmas markets in the towns of Ludwigslust and Witzenhausen, Germany, a gunman unleashed a hail of gunfire into a crowd at the Chriskindelsmärik, in Strasbourg, France – killing three and injuring thirteen. Six of the injured were deemed to be in critical condition.
The gunman, who has been identified as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, shouted, “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest – in Arabic) as he opened fire on the crowd of Christmas market goers.
The Chriskendelsmärik, one of Frances most popular seasonal events, has been held annually on the square in front of Strasbourg Cathedral since 1570. It’s one of France’s oldest Christmas markets and draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
Chekatt, who was already known by French authorities as a violent Islamic extremist, has spent time in prison for crimes including theft and robbery. Rémy Heitz, a public prosecutor in France, has stated that Chekatt, in his 29 years, has accrued 27 criminal convictions for crimes that have taken place in France, Germany and Switzerland.
Chekatt was also on France’s “Fiche S,” a national terrorist watchlist.
Among the victims were Anupong Suebsarmarn, age 45, who was a Thai tourist on holiday with his wife, a local main from Strasbourg, age 60-61 and man from Afghanistan – all were killed.
An Italian journalist from Europhonica was also injured, and is currently in a coma and is said to be inoperable. Others who were injured during the shooting include a French staffer who worked at the European Parliament and a soldier who engaged in a shoot-out with Chekatt.
No children were reported to have been harmed.
According to a French judicial official, the terrorist’s parents and two brothers, also known for radicalism, have been detained.
For now, Chekatt, who was injured during a gun fight with police, still remains at large. Over 700 French and German security forces have been dispatched to find him.
French authorities have asked the public not to approach Chekatt if they see him, as he is likely still armed and highly dangerous.