France Tightens Security to ‘Highest Level’ in Wake of Strasbourg Christmas Market Terror Attack

By Paul Riegler on 12 December 2018
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dsc02565French authorities said they have five people in custody as they continue on Wednesday to hunt for a suspected extremist who killed three people and wounded at least 13 on Tuesday at one of Europe’s most historic Christmas markets.

The incident put the entire country on high alert and a massive manhunt is underway for the shooter.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that the shooter, referred to as Chérif S. by French police, was injured during a shootout near the market but remains at large.

“The government has raised its security threat to the highest level and is bolstering border controls,” Castaner told reporters. “We will also reinforce security at all Christmas markets to prevent copycat attacks.”

Security at other Christmas markets including those in Munich, Nürnberg, and Vienna is being beefed up following the incident.

The suspect, born in 1989, is a known extremist and was tagged with a fiche “S,” the highest warning for French state security. Police wounded the shooter, who managed to get away in a taxi.

The incident took place at Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik, the oldest Christmas market, first held in 1570 and still in operation. The Christkindelsmärik has over 300 stalls and is located on the Place Kléber, Place Broglie, Place du Marché aux cochons de lait, and around the cathedral.

Castaner said that border security is being tightened and that more than 350 security personnel have been mobilized in this manhunt

Historically, Christmas markets have been a target for terrorists. French police thwarted a planned Al Qaeda attack on the Strasbourg Christmas market in 2000. In 2016, French police arrested seven individuals who were planning to attack Christmas markets.

Before this attack, the deadliest at a Christmas market was the December 19, 2016 attack when a man proclaiming his loyalty to ISIS drove a truck into a Christmas market next to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche or Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, leaving 12 people dead and 56 injured.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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