A gunman on a security watch list killed three people and wounded a dozen others near the picturesque Christmas market in the historic French city of Strasbourg on Tuesday evening before fleeing.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the shooter had evaded a police dragnet and was on the run, raising concerns of a follow-up attack.
“The government has raised its security threat to the highest level and is bolstering border controls,”
Castaner told a late-night news conference. “We will also reinforce security at all Christmas markets to prevent copycat attacks.”
With France still on high alert after a wave of attacks commissioned or inspired by Islamic State militants since early 2015, the counter-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation.
Police identified the suspect as Strasbourg-born Cherif Chekatt, 29, who was known to the intelligence services as a potential security risk.
Castaner said the gunman exchanged shots with security forces twice as he escaped. His whereabouts now were unknown, and elite commandos and helicopters were involved in the manhunt.
The Paris prosecutor said the motive for the attack was not known. No one immediately claimed responsibility, but the U.S.-based Site intelligence group, which monitors jihadist websites, said Islamic State supporters were celebrating.