Police in France Hunt for Strasbourg Taking pictures Suspect, and a Motive

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STRASBOURG, France — It remained unclear what motivated the gunman who opened fireplace at a crowded avenue market in Strasbourg, France, officers stated Wednesday, because the police continued an intensive seek for the attacker.

“The terrorist motivation of the act, as we communicate, will not be but established,” stated Laurent Nuñez, the deputy inside minister, though he cautioned that the investigation was nonetheless in its preliminary phases.

The assault on Tuesday night time hit probably the most standard Christmas markets in France, unleashing chaos among the many hundreds of individuals milling across the short-term distributors’ chalets dotting Strasbourg’s historic neighborhood. The capturing recalled different assaults lately by the Islamist radicals in France, Belgium and different components of Europe — however some witnesses puzzled at first if the panic was associated to the “Yellow Vest” protests which have paralyzed French cities in latest weeks.

On Wednesday, the police stated that three individuals have been killed and 13 others wounded.

[Learn extra concerning the Christmas market assault in Strasbourg right here.]

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The market remained closed on Wednesday, leaving the town heart largely empty and cordoned off by safety forces. Sports activities facilities, cultural establishments and plenty of retailers within the space have been closed for the day.

“It is likely to be the most important Christmas market in France — you’d by no means consider an assault whenever you hear the primary gunshots,” stated Marc Meyer, 32, who stated he was standing by the market’s Christmas tree when he noticed a panicked crowd speeding towards him round eight p.m. “You consider a avenue present, you consider some agitation from the Yellow Vests, however you don’t assume that an assault is occurring.”

Jamel Beli, who was sitting on a close-by terrace when he heard the primary gunshots, additionally thought some Yellow Vest protesters have been behind the agitation. “It was so, so crowded,” stated Mr. Beli, 42. “It may very properly have been carnage.”

Mr. Nuñez, talking on France Inter radio, stated {that a} 29-year-old suspect, whose identify has not been made public, had an intensive prison report — he was in jail as just lately as 2015 — however had by no means been convicted of terrorism and didn’t seem to have tried to go to Syria.

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“He had a number of stays in jail, and it’s throughout these stays that was observed a radicalization of the best way he practiced” Islam, Mr. Nuñez stated. He confirmed studies that the police had raided the suspect’s house Tuesday morning in an unrelated homicide case, however he stated that the idea that the raid had pushed him to behave was solely “a speculation amongst others.”

The suspect is one among about 20,000 individuals flagged for attainable radicalization by French safety providers, together with by what is thought is France as a Fiche S, or S File.

Being flagged with such a file — the “S” stands for “la Sûreté de l’État,” or safety of the state — doesn’t imply that the particular person has been convicted of an offense or is even suspected of 1. As an alternative, it’s a means for French safety forces to maintain observe of a variety of people who find themselves thought to probably pose a safety menace, in some circumstances merely as a result of they’re acquainted with another person underneath watch.

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“The S File can goal people who aren’t very harmful, and it’s used solely to look at their actions and journeys across the nation,” Mr. Nuñez stated. “It isn’t a criterion of dangerousness.”

Witnesses stated the gunman used a handgun, Mr. Nuñez stated, and though it couldn’t be “dominated out” that the suspect had left France for Germany, he stated that border checks have been instantly strengthened.

Mr. Nuñez stated that round 15 terrorist plots had been thwarted because the starting of the yr, together with one through which a “group of people” needed to strike on Nov. 17, the primary day of the Yellow Vest protests, to benefit from the truth that the police have been stretched skinny.

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