In what has been described by the French anti-terrorist prosecution service as a terror attack, a gunman opened fire at a crowded Christmas market in the centre of Strasbourg (Grand Est region) at 20:00 local time on 11 December before fleeing in a Taxi towards the border Germany, evading capture by security forces. Police responded to the incident immediately after the first shots , leading to an exchange of gunfire before the assailant fled in taxi towards Neudorf, a town on the German border. It is believed that police managed to wound the assailant during his escape.
The assailant has since been identified as a 29-year-old French national of Moroccan descent who was released from prison in Germany in 2017 and deported back to France. He had been placed on a French terror watch list that profiled self-styled Jihadist with the capability to carry out attacks in France. It is believed the gunman was radicalised during multiple spells in Prison. Police had earlier raided the suspects home in an unrelated criminal case finding knives, grenades and a firearm but failed to detain the assailant. While some reports suggest that the assailant shouted “Allahu Akba” prior to the attack, this remains unconfirmed and the motive is yet to be established.
The attack occurred in the vicinity of Place Kleber, home to France’s oldest Christmas market. Strasbourg also remains the official seat of the European Parliament which was in session during the attack. The city has been a target for Islamist plots in the past and security has been elevated since the Paris attacks in 2015. The Christmas market and surrounding street were closed for around 12 hours following the attack but have since reopened. France has subsequently raised its terrorism threat level to the highest level. Security remains elevated within the centre city and surrounding areas. Heightened security measure and associated delays should be expected at the border crossing to Germany.