A massive hunt is underway for a gunman who opened fire near a popular Christmas market in the center of the French city of Strasbourg Tuesday, killing three people and injuring 13 others.
More than 350 police gendarmes and soldiers supported by air units have been mobilized to find the suspect, who was already known to security services as a possible threat, police said.
Speaking to French radio station Inter on Wednesday, the county’s Deputy Interior Minister, Laurent Nunez, said that authorities could not confirm that the suspect has “terrorist motivations.”
Nunez added that while authorities have secured the border and set up a perimeter around Strasbourg, they are not sure if the suspect is still in France.
Nunez’s comments come after the Paris Prosecutor’s office confirmed to CNN that their anti-terror section was in charge of the investigation.
Strasbourg’s famed Christmas Market is one of the oldest in Europe and draws millions of visitors each year. The suspect entered the perimeter of the market by the city’s Corbeau Bridge, and began shooting at passers-by on the Rue des Orfèvres at 8 p.m. local time, when many were in the middle of their Christmas shopping.
Anti-terror police descended on the market and attempted to apprehend the suspect, who exchanged fire with security forces on at least two occasions between 8:20 p.m. and 9 p.m. French media reported the gunman was injured in one of the exchanges. He is then believed to have jumped into a taxi and fled the scene.
The attack prompted France to raise its national security threat level to its highest “emergency terror attack” status, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said at a press conference.
Eight people were seriously wounded, Strasbourg police said on Wednesday, with five others suffering from minor injuries.