A shooting in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday killed four people, wounded 11 others and is being treated as an act of “terror,” police and government officials said, adding that the gunman is on the run.
As was reported by Fox News, the suspect opened fire in downtown Strasbourg on Orfevre Street around 8 p.m. local time, government authorities Préfet de la région Grand-Est et du Bas-Rhin revealed on Twitter.
The gunman is known to police and has a criminal record, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters.
The suspect was shot and wounded before fleeing the scene, police officials told The Associated Press. Authorities attempted to arrest the individual ahead of the shooting, a police official said, but it wasn’t immediately clear why.
Part of the incident took place in a Christmas market at Rue des Grandes Arcades and unfolded on different streets in the city, Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries said. Military forces were helping the police, according to the mayor.
“There were gunshots and people running everywhere,” one local shopkeeper told BFM TV. “It lasted about 10 minutes.”
The Interior Ministry instructed people in Strasbourg to stay inside due to a “serious security event” taking place, according to an AP report. Government officials in the region also took to Twitter about an incident, saying there was an “event underway in Strasbourg” and cautioned against spreading “false rumors.”
“Avoid the area around the police station,” the Préfet de la région Grand-Est et du Bas-Rhin tweeted.
That area is located near the city’s Christmas market, according to the AP report. Strasbourg’s well-known market is set up around the city’s cathedral during the Christmas period and becomes a gathering place.
The European Parliament, which meets in Strasbourg, was closed and nobody is permitted to leave, according to Jaume Duch, the institution’s director general for communication and spokesperson.
President Emmanuel Macron was informed of the shooting and was being updated as events unfurled, an Elysee Palace official said. Castaner was on his way to Strasbourg, which lies on the border with Germany.
A spokesman for the European Parliament said the building had been shut down and staff ordered to stay inside.
“My thoughts are with the victims of the Strasbourg shooting, which I condemn with the utmost firmness,” tweeted Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission, the EU executive. “Strasbourg is an excellent symbol of peace and European Democracy. Values that we will always defend.”
European security agencies have feared for some time that Islamist militants who left Europe to fight for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq would return after the jihadist group’s defeat, with the skills and motivation to carry out attacks at home.
In 2016, a truck ploughed into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, killing more than 80 people, while in November 2015, coordinated Islamist militant attacks on the Bataclan concert hall and other sites in Paris claimed about 130 lives. There have also been attacks in Paris on a policeman on the Champs-Elysees avenue, the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher store.
Almost exactly two years ago, a Tunisian Islamist rammed a hijacked truck into a Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 11 people as well as the driver.
In a related development, the Jewish Voice reported on Saturday night that French police arrested hundreds of protesters associated with the so-called Yellow Vest movement as France is now dealing with more fallout from a failed set of carbon taxes designed to tackle climate change.
Police arrested more nearly 1000 people Saturday morning in Paris and 135 people had been injured, including 17 police officers. Police searched protesters for items like the now-famed yellows vests they wear to signify allegiance to the country’s working class. Four people have died and scores more wounded during the weeks-long protests, which began in mid-November.
Protesters attempted to set a drugstore ablaze on the Champs-Élysées, placing burning Christmas trees against the building. French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Saturday that violent outbreaks in Paris were “under control” despite ongoing disorderly acts he declared “totally unacceptable.”
French police supported by armored vehicles fired tear gas at yellow-vested protesters on the Champs-Elysees. The demonstrators were protesting France’s high cost of living. Castaner estimated 10,000 demonstrators had taken to Parisian streets and were among 125,000 protesters throughout the country.
Bracing for a fourth week of violent protests, France closed the Eiffel Tower and other tourist landmarks and mobilized tens of thousands of security officers. Many shops in Paris were boarded up before Saturday’s planned protests to avoid being smashed or looted, and police cordoned off many of the city’s broad boulevards.
Despite what Castaner said were “exceptional” security measures, protesters still smashed store windows and clashed with police. More than 89,000 police were being deployed nationwide, an increase from 65,000 last weekend, when protests over rising taxes turned into a riot that left more than 130 people injured.
Police in central Paris removed any materials from the streets that could be used as weapons or projectiles during the demonstrations, including street furniture at outdoor cafes.
President Emmanuel Macron made an unannounced visit Friday night to a group of anti-riot security officers outside Paris to thank them for their work. The protests erupted in November over a fuel tax increase, which was part of Macron’s plan to combat global warming.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called for new talks Saturday with representatives of the “yellow vest” movement. He vowed the government would address their concerns about rising living costs.
On Monday, it was reported that French President Emmanuel Macron spoke publicly for the first time on the anti-government protests that have shaken the country.
“I take my share of responsibility. I might have hurt people with my words,” Macron said in a nationwide broadcast speech Monday night.
He also said he recognizes that a proposed tax hike on pensions was “unjust.”
But Macron called the anger that has boiled over in the past weeks the result of what he describes as a 40-year-long “malaise,” especially among rural French.
The president declared an “economic and social state of emergency.”
Along with cutting the tax on pensioners, there will be a government-funded $113 boost in the monthly minimum wage, taxes on overtime pay will be scrapped, and large businesses have been asked to give workers a tax-free, end-of-the-year bonus.
But Macron stood firm against the street protesters, saying there will be “no indulgence” for those who smash windows, loot stores and attack police.
He also showed no signs of giving in to one of the demonstrators’ top demands — his resignation.
Macron has already canceled a fuel tax hike that sparked the protests nearly a month ago.
President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that the Paris Agreement, a global effort to reduce global warming beginning in 2020, “isn’t working out so well for Paris” and that “People do not want to pay large sums of money … in order to protect the environment.”
Since the unrest began in November, four people have been killed in protest-related accidents. While Macron has since abandoned the fuel tax hike, protesters have made new demands to address other economic issues hurting workers, retirees and students.
Some are worried that the Yellow Vest movement could spread elsewhere. Police used extraordinary means to put down copycat protests in Belgium, another country seeking to enact stiff taxes on carbon. About 100 people were arrested as the police used tear gas and water cannons against Belgium protesters.
(VOA & FOX)
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