3 dead in shooting in French city of Strasbourg, police say shooter has not been caught

By Bianca Britton, Sandrine Amiel and Saskya Vandoorne, CNN

(CNN) -- French police have launched a manhunt for the suspect who opened fire near a Christmas market in the center of the French city of Strasbourg Tuesday, killing three people and injuring 12 others.

The motive for the attack is unclear but police said the suspect was already known to security services as a possible threat.

The Paris Prosecutor's office told CNN that their anti-terror section is in charge of the investigation and more than 350 security forces have been mobilized to find the gunman.

The suspect entered the perimeter of the Christmas market by the city's Corbeau Bridge around 8 p.m. local time, heading toward the Rue des Orfèvres and began shooting. The suspect escaped in a taxi once anti-terror police descended on the scene.

In the wake of the attack, France raised its national security threat level to "emergency terror attack" status, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said at a press conference early Wednesday.

Here are the latest developments:

  • The suspected gunman was "unfavorably known" by police authorities in France and Germany, Castaner told reporters on Wednesday. The suspect was known for common law offenses.
  • French armed police, known as gendarmerie, had attempted to arrest the suspected shooter on Tuesday morning before the attack, a spokesperson for France's National Police told CNN. The police did not give details of why the attempted arrest occurred.
  • The suspected gunman was injured during an anti-terror operation, CNN affiliate BFM reported. The suspect is a 29-year-old man who was born in Strasbourg, the French network reported.
  • The suspect was under what is known as the "Fiche S" surveillance file, Strasbourg police said. The "Fiche S" file is a French terror/radicalization watch list that includes thousands of people, some of whom are under active surveillance, meaning they are on law enforcement's radar.
  • Six victims were in critical condition early Wednesday, authorities said. Six other victims suffered minor injuries, Strasbourg police said.
  • Christmas markets throughout France are under surveillance after the attack, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said early Wednesday.
  • France has raised its national security threat level to "emergency terror attack" status since the attack, Castaner said.
  • Border controls have been strengthened, Castaner said. He said 350 security forces have been mobilized and more are underway. 

Issam Fares, who sells chestnuts at the Strasbourg Christmas market, told the AFP he heard several shots and thought they were fireworks "or they're attacking a store."

"I saw a lot of people running, scared, crying kids and all. Then I said, in my opinion it must be very, very serious, and then ... I saw people crying and the crowd leaving," he told AFP. "They said it was shooting right next door, so I ran away. I went to hide in a restaurant, not far from Gutenberg Street."

The injured were taken to a Strasbourg hospital.

French President Emmanuel Macron is monitoring the situation and has asked the interior minister to go to the scene, an Elysee Palace spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said: "The President of the republic is being informed in real time of the situation in Strasbourg. He decided accordingly to shorten his current meeting and asked the minister of the interior to go there. He continues to be kept informed of developments."

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