Three people have been killed and 12 others wounded in a shooting in the eastern French city of Strasbourg.
The gunman, known to security services, is on the run and is being hunted by police. “He fought twice with our security forces,” said Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.
The shooting happened close to a Christmas market near one of the central squares, Place Kléber.
France’s counter terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation.
Six of the injured are said to be in a serious condition, while six others suffered light injuries, police said.
Confirming that three people had died, Mr Castaner said that border controls had been strengthened, with 350 security agents hunting for the gunman.
He added that security at all Christmas markets would be stepped up.
Police said the 29-year-old suspect was born in Strasbourg and was already known to the security services as a possible terrorist threat.
According to France’s BFM TV the man had fled his flat in the Neudorf district of the city on Tuesday morning as it was being searched by police in connection with a robbery.
Grenades were found during the search.
Residents in Neudorf have been urged to stay indoors amid unconfirmed reports he has been tracked down and cornered by police in the area.
The European Parliament, which is nearby, was placed on lockdown. The parliament’s president, Antonio Tajani, tweeted to say it would “not be intimidated by terrorist or criminal attacks”.
Panic in the city
The attack unfolded at around 20:00 local time (19:00 GMT) close to Strasbourg’s famed Christmas market, which attracts thousands of visitors at this time of year.
Eyewitness Pater Fritz told the BBC he heard gunfire and found a person who had been shot, lying on a bridge. He said he tried to resuscitate him but the man died.
“There are no ambulance services able to enter the area, apparently,” he said, adding: “After 45 minutes we stopped the resuscitation [attempt], because a doctor told us on the phone that it was senseless.”
Local journalist Bruno Poussard wrote on Twitter that there had been a dozen shots fired on his street in the city centre – one or two to begin with, then in bursts.
Emmanuel Foulon, a press officer for the European Parliament, wrote that there was “panic” in the centre following the sound of gunfire and that police with guns were running through the streets.
A shopkeeper told BFM TV: “There were gun shots and people running everywhere. It lasted about 10 minutes.”
British MEP Richard Corbett tweeted that he was in a restaurant in the city and the doors had been locked.
The mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, later tweeted that the Christmas market would be closed on Wednesday following events. He added that flags would be lowered to half-mast at the local Town Hall, where people could to pay their respects in a book of condolences.
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