France was on on full alert on Wednesday as hundreds of security forces partook in a manhunt for a gunman who killed not less than two people and wounded a dozen more at a Christmas market in eastern France.
French authorities had earlier said that three people were killed, but prosecutor, Remy Heitz said Wednesday that two people were dead and a third was brain dead.
The attack occured in Strasbourg, which is home to the European Union’s Parliament, about 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday. A terrorism investigation has been resumed, but a motive for the attack is still unclear and no group has claimed responsibility.
President Donald Trump, tweeted on Wednesday morning that the attack was terrorism “Another very bad terror attack in France. We are going to strengthen our borders even more. Chuck and Nancy must give us the votes to get additional Border Security!” (Referring to Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and soon-to-be House majority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.)
French police recognised the suspect as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt. He is considered to be from Strasbourg and radicalized while serving time in prison for several robbery cases.
Chekatt might have escaped to Germany, authorities said. The German government said it has beefed up controls on the country’s border.
Heitz, the prosecutor, note that witnesses heard the suspect shout “God is great” in Arabic during the attack. He said police found a grenade, a rifle and four knives during a search of the suspect’s house on Tuesday morning.
He said the assailant, who assaulted the victims with a handgun and a knife, was shot in the arm during a gunfight with soldiers before fleeing in a taxi to another part of the city. He remains at large.
Laurent Nunez, secretary of state for France’s interior ministry, told France-Inter radio Wednesday that five people have been detained in connection with the attack. He said eight of the injured were severely wounded.
French media reported that before the attack Chekatt was being investigated over an attempted murder, and that he had been due to be arrested on Tuesday morning.
About 350 police officers are part in the search for Chekatt.
According to AFP, France has been the victim of a number of deadly terrorist attacks since 2015. A total of 246 people have been murdered in those incidents. The country has also been hit by a recent series of violent anti-government protests, stretching police.
Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner stated that France’s security alert level has been raised to “emergency.” That indicates reinforced border controls and tightened security on all Christmas markets in France to prevent the risk of a copycat attack.
The Christmas market and lights in Strasbourg attract countless numbers of people each year. In 2000, French and German police defeated a plan by al-Qaeda to set off a truck bomb close to the Strasbourg Cathedral, next to the Christmas market.