14 Dec 2018

Strasbourg attacker shot dead, French minister confirms

11:39 am on 14 December 2018

The gunman believed to have attacked a market in Strasbourg is dead, a French government minister has confirmed.

Police officers stand guard near the scene of the shooting in Strasbourg, 11 December 2018. A gunman killed three people before fleeing the scene.

Police officers stand guard on Tuesday near the scene of the shooting in Strasbourg. Photo: AFP

Cherif Chekatt, 29, had been on the run since the attack on a Christmas market in the city on Tuesday which left three people dead.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in a tweet police came across a man they believed to be Chekatt and when they went to arrest him the suspect turned to fire on officers. Police returned fire and "neutralised" the man, he said.

Earlier, one police source had told Reuters the suspect was dead.

At least three gunshots were fired in the La Meinau district duirng a police operation on Thursday night.

A Reuters journalist in the area said he heard three to four gunshots and could hear a police helicopter overhead.

Police had been combing the city in the east of France and had manned checkpoints on the German border in the search.

Armed and masked police had earlier swooped on Strasbourg neighbourhoods with elite RAID officers fanning out across three locations late Thursday afternoon, including the area where the suspected shooter was last seen. Some had their guns trained on the houses in front of them.

Police a wanted poster in multiple languages for Cherif Chekatt, who was on a watchlist as a potential security threat. Authorities say the 29-year-old was known to have developed radical religious views while in jail.

The Paris prosecutor's office said that an individual close to the 29-year-old was arrested earlier in the day as part of the investigation into the attack, which also saw 13 other people wounded. His parents and two brothers are already in custody.

Two of his sisters in Paris were also questioned on Thursday and one of their homes was searched, a judicial source said.

Strasbourg's mayor has said the attack was "indisputably an act of terrorism" and, with the gunman on the run, France has raised its security threat to the highest level.

More than 700 police are taking part in the manhunt. French and German police manned controls on either side of the Europe Bridge, which spans the frontier running along the Rhine river, causing hours of logjams.

It took police four months to track down Salah Abdesalam, the prime surviving suspect from the November 2015 militant assault on Paris, in an apartment in Brussels. One hundred and thirty people were killed in that attack as well as seven gunmen and bombers.

- Reuters