At least [three] people were killed and 11 wounded in a shooting near a French Christmas market Tuesday, prompting an investigation into whether the attack was terror-related.
Several of the injured are in critical condition following the attack in Strasbourg, which the French interior minister called a “serious public security incident,” according to the BBC. [One injured person is considered brain dead, the BBC also reported.]
A gunman with a criminal record has been identified as a 29-year-old Strasbourg resident, but is not yet in custody, authorities said. He was previously flagged as a suspected extremist, CBS News reports. No possible motive was given.
NBC News reports that police were involved in a firefight in the Strasbourg neighborhood of Neudorf as of 10:45 p.m. local time, though it remains unclear whether the bullets were connected to the shooting.
A witness told a local outlet that the chaos — which happened near the centrally-located Christmas market — lasted about 10 minutes, and that the gunshots prompted widespread panic.
The alleged assailant penetrated a security zone near the market and began shooting, said Strasbourg mayor Roland Riles.
French military spokesman Col. Patrik Steiger claimed the gunman didn’t seem to be aiming for patrolling soldiers but rather unarmed civilians.
“I heard two or three shots … then I heard screams,” said witness Yoann Bazard. “I got close to the window. I saw people running. After that I closed the shutters. Then I heard more shots, closer this time.”
Residents in nearby areas were told to stay indoors as police continued to survey the area.
Strasbourg is a large city in France’s northeast corner, and has a population of more than 270,000.
Its popular Christmas market is in season Nov. 23 to Dec. 30, and the city bills itself as the “Capital of Christmas” on its website.
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