French police try to catch attack suspect dead or alive

Combined Shape

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — The man authorities believe killed three people during a rampage near a Christmas market in Strasbourg died Thursday in a shootout with police at the end of a two-day manhunt, French authorities said.

The Paris prosecutor’s office, which handles terror cases in France, formally identified the man killed in the eastern French city as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, a Strasbourg-born man with a long history of convictions for various crimes, including robberies. Chekatt also had been on a watch list of potential extremists.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, speaking earlier from Strasbourg, said police had spotted a man matching the suspect’s description in the city’s Neudorf neighborhood.

“The moment they tried to arrest him, he turned around and opened fire. They replied,” killing the man, Castaner said.

Chekatt was suspected of killing three people and wounding 13 near Strasbourg’s Christmas market on Tuesday night. Castaner said earlier Thursday that three of the injured had been released from hospital and three others were still fighting for their lives.

Trending:
Biden Cancels Trump's 'Garden of American Heroes' and Ends Exec Order Protecting Monuments

“Our engagement against terrorism is total,” French President Emmanuel Macron, who was in Brussels for a European Union summit, said in a tweet thanking security forces.

Five people have been arrested in connection with the investigation, including Chekatt’s parents and two of his brothers. The Paris prosecutor’s office said the fifth, who was arrested Thursday, was a member of Chekatt’s “entourage” but not a family member.

Witnesses said the gunman shouted “God is great!” in Arabic and sprayed gunfire from a security zone near the Christmas market on Tuesday. Security forces wounded the man but he managed to escape in a taxi, which dropped him off in the Neudorf neighborhood.

More than 700 officers searched for Chekatt, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told CNews television.

Chekatt was well-known to police but as a common criminal, not a terrorist. He had his first conviction at 13, and had 26 more by the time he died at age 29. He served jail time in France, Germany and Switzerland.

A local police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the man who shot at police Thursday night had been armed with a pistol and a knife.

Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries said police had acted on a tip from a woman.

Residents described hearing shots on the street where Chekatt faced off with police, prompting new jitters after two days marked by tension in and around Strasbourg, which lies on the border with Germany and is considered as symbol of European unity.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity online, said the Islamic State group’s Amaq news agency was claiming the gunman as a “soldier” of the group, although IS claims of responsibility have often been considered opportunistic.

Related:
China Lands on Mars for the 1st Time in Another Step Forward for Its Space Program

Chekatt’s motives remain vague. Authorities had put him on a watch list three years ago for suspected radicalism, but said they didn’t detect signs he was ready to act on it — a pattern in several past attacks in France.

France raised its three-stage threat index to the highest level after Tuesday’s attack and deployed 1,800 additional soldiers across the country to help patrol streets and secure crowded events.

Security forces, including the elite Raid squad, spent hours Thursday searching in the Neudorf neighborhood where Chekatt had grown up based on “supposition only” he might have been hiding in a building nearby, a French police official said.

Residents of the Neudorf neighborhood expressed relief after Chekatt was killed.

“Everybody’s quite happy that the killer has been finally shot. I think now, the city and life can keep going on in Strasbourg,” resident Pierre Plasse said.

One of the three who died in Tuesday’s attack was a Thai tourist, 45-year-old Anupong Suebsamarn, according to the Thai Foreign Ministry. An Italian journalist was in critical condition, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said. The Europhonica radio consortium said Antonio Megalizzi, 28, was in Strasbourg to follow the session of the European Parliament.

The leaders of the 28 European Union countries held a moment of silence for the victims at their summit Thursday.

Before Thursday’s shootout, hundreds of people gathered in Strasbourg’s renowned 500-year-old cathedral to mourn and seek comfort.

“Evil does not prevail,” Archbishop Luc Ravel said. “And the message of Christmas has not been contradicted but rather confirmed by Tuesday’s dramatic night: Evil and good are both there, but in the end the good will have last word.”

___

Petrequin and Becatoros reported from Paris. Associated Press writers Jean-Francois Badias in Strasbourg, France, Sylvie Corbet, Deborah Gouffran, and Elaine Ganley in Paris, Colleen Barry in Milan, Italy, Raf Casert and Angela Charlton in Brussels, Belgium, contributed to this report.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →






We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
Combined Shape
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




Conversation