Politics

French police kill Strasbourg Christmas market gunman

STRASBOURG, France, The gunman who killed three people at a Christmas market in Strasbourg was shot dead by French police on Thursday as the Islamic State jihadist group claimed him as one of its soldiers.

More than 700 French security forces had been hunting for 29yearold

Cherif Chekatt since the bloodshed on Tuesday night the latest in a string

of jihadist attacks to rock France.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said three police tried to question

Chekatt after spotting him wandering through the streets in the Neudorf

area of the northeastern French city where he grew up, but he opened fire.

They immediately returned fire and neutralised the assailant, Castaner

said.

People gathered at the police cordon where Chekatt was shot and applauded,

some shouting bravo!, a source said.

The propaganda wing of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for

Tuesday's attack.

The perpetrator of the attack in the city of Strasbourg is one of the

soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to

calls to target nationals of the coalition against IS, the Amaq agency said

in a message posted on Twitter.

Chekatt, who lived in a rundown apartment block a short drive from the city

centre, was flagged by French security forces in 2015 as a possible Islamic

extremist.

France has been hit by a wave of attacks from people claiming allegiance to

Al Qaeda or the Islamic State group since 2015, which have claimed the lives

of nearly 250 people, according to an AFP toll.

It is also not the first time a Christmas market has been targeted in

Europe.

In 2016, a jihadist attacked a Christmas market in Berlin and went on the

run through the Netherlands and France before being shot and killed three

days later in northern Italy.

Defiant officials insisted the Strasbourg market would reopen as usual on

Friday.

Career criminal

Chekatt was believed to have been wounded after exchanging fire with

soldiers during the attack, but managed to escape and had not been seen since

fleeing the attack on Tuesday.

Police in several other countries had joined the hunt for the career

criminal with at least 27 convictions in four European states.

Officers who had already detained Chekatt's parents and two brothers on

Wednesday took a fifth person into custody for questioning on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed the solidarity of the whole

country towards the victims.

It is not only France that has been hit but a great European city as

well, he added, referring to the seat of the European parliament in the

eastern French city that lies on the border with Germany.

Strasbourg's location in the heart of western Europe means that Germany,

Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg can be easily reached by car or train,

making the search for Chekatt more complicated.

Swiss police had reinforced border checks, while German authorities also

widely published the photo of the suspect, which showed him with dark hair, a

short beard and a mark on his forehead.

Plea to 'yellow vests'

As police hunted Chekatt, the French government urged yellow vest

protesters angry over French economic reforms not to hold another round of

demonstrations this weekend, given the strain on the country's security

forces.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux called on the antigovernment

protesters to be reasonable after nearly four weeks of often violent

demonstrations that have led the government to offer a range of financial

relief to low earners.

Our security forces have been deployed extensively these past few weeks,

Griveaux told CNews television.

It would be better if everyone could go about their business calmly on

Saturday, before the yearend celebrations with their families, instead of

demonstrating and putting our security forces to work once again, he added.

The yellow vest protesters, known for their fluorescent highvisibility

jackets, had called for a fifth round of protests this Saturday.

The protests began on November 17 over fuel tax increases, but snowballed

into a revolt over living standards as well as Macron's perceived

indifference to the problems of ordinary citizens.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)