Cherif Chekatt dead: Strasbourg Christmas market shooting suspect killed by police

Isis claims responsibility for attack after news Chérif Chekatt had been shot

Tom Barnes,Lizzie Dearden
Thursday 13 December 2018 21:34
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French police step up hunt for Strasbourg gunman

The suspected gunman in a deadly attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg has been killed, French officials say.

Chérif Chekatt was killed in the Neudorf area of the city following a counter terror operation launched on Thursday evening, interior minister Christophe Castaner announced.

Mr Castaner said three officers had come across a man they believed to be the suspect in the street and moved to arrest him. The man then opened fire and was shot dead.

Chekatt, 29, had been at large since Tuesday, when he is thought to have begun shooting at visitors and tourists at the market, killing three people and wounding 13 others.

Isis claimed responsibility for the attack minutes after news that Chekatt had been "neutralised" broke around the world.

The group issued a statement via its Amaq news agency claiming that the attack was “carried out by a soldier of the Islamic State in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition countries [carrying out airstrikes on its territories]”.

The statement did not name Chekatt or provide any details, using the generic wording previously used for atrocities across Europe.

It followed the release of Isis’ weekly newspaper, which reported the Strasbourg attack in its international news roundup citing French media reports.

The brief article in al-Naba contained no new information and did not make a claim of responsibility.

Chérif Chekatt had been at large following the shooting on Tuesday 

Mr Castaner called Isis’s statement “totally opportunistic” on Friday, and doubt has been cast on the veracity of its claims in the past.

Chekatt, a career criminal who lived near the scene of the shooting, was being monitored by security services and had been put on France’s “fiche S” extremist watchlist after being radicalised in prison in 2015.

Armed police, including France’s elite Raid squad, had already descended on the neighbourhood earlier in the day for a major operation.

Officials said they had been acting on “supposition only” that Chekatt may have been hiding in the area, where a taxi driver is believed to have dropped him off immediately after he escaped the scene of the shooting.

Hundreds of police across France had been mobilised for the manhunt, with government officials stating they were prepared to take the suspect “dead or alive” in order to bring the operation to a close.

Five people, including Chekatt’s mother and father, as well as two of his six brothers, have also been taken into custody in connection with the shooting.

Police publicly named Chekatt as the main suspect in the shooting on Wednesday, revealing he had already been under surveillance after being deemed a potential terror risk.

Authorities had described him as a “delinquent” who held almost 30 previous criminal convictions and had served jail time in not just France, but also Switzerland and Germany.

Chekatt is alleged to have yelled “God is great” in Arabic before opening fire from a security zone near the Christmas market.

Anupong Suebsamarn, a 45-year-old tourist who had been visiting from Thailand, is currently the only victim of the shooting to be named by authorities.

A Strasbourg resident in his 60s is also thought to have died in the attack, the city’s mayor Roland Ries told local media.

Strasbourg's usually busy streets were eerily empty Thursday morning, with a heavy police and military presence.

Some lit candles and brought flowers to a makeshift memorial at the site of the attack.

“You can feel a very heavy atmosphere due all these events,” said resident Lucille Romance. “People are in a state of shock and are avoiding getting out of their house.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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