Three people were killed and 12 injured as a lone gunman opened fire at the Strasbourg Christmas Market late on Tuesday, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Wednesday.
"From 19:50 [local time], a man was sowing terror in three locations of the city. He killed three people," Castaner said, adding that 12 people were wounded. "The search for the criminal continues. 350 police officers are involved in the operation."
He said security measures will be enhanced at Christmas fairs all across France.
"The government decided to enact emergency measures. Border control and security at New Year fairs all over the country will be toughened," the interior minister said. "Additional forces were mobilized by the government and are now heading to Strasbourg."
Castaner also said that all rallies, scheduled for Wednesday, will be cancelled, because police needs to focus on searching for the suspect rather than ensuring security at public events.
"Soon, the head of the [Bas-Rhin] Department will sign a decree to cancel all manifestations scheduled for Wednesday," he said.
The gunman was identified only as 29-year-old Strasbourg resident Cherif C. According to police, he was sought by police on suspicion of attempted murder and several robberies and was to be arrested this morning. Earlier media reports said his profile was included into the list of potential terrorists and other individuals posing a threat to state security, complied by France's domestic security service, DGSI.
The suspect fled the scene of the attack in a hijacked taxi cab. The driver, who is now safe, says the man had a wound. This is consistent with earlier media reports, which said the attacker was injured in a shootout with police, but managed to flee.
The area where the attack took place remains cordoned off. The attack triggered a broad lockdown in the city as residents were told not to leave their homes, while visitors of cafes and shops were advised to stay indoors. Doors of the European Parliament headquarters were locked. Besides, people attending a basketball game at the Rhenus Sport stadium in the northern part of the city were also told not to leave.
According to the DNA news portal, Strasbourg Mayor Mayor Roland Ries declared a day of mourning on Wednesday. All schools will be open, but parents were advised to accompany their children. Nursery schools will be closed.