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Suspected Strasbourg gunman shot dead: French Interior Minister

Christmas in Strasbourg. (Arnaud Abadie/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has confirmed that a man killed in a shootout with police in the French city of Strasbourg on December 13 is 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, the suspect in the killing of three people near the city’s Christmas market on December 11.

Castaner said three police officers had stumbled across a man believed to be Chekatt in the street and proceeded to arrest him. The suspect turned to fire on them and they shot and killed him, Castaner told a news conference.

The Islamic State (IS) militant group issued a statement through its Amaq Agency online affiliate saying that one of its followers carried out the shooting. IS, which did not provide proof for its claim, has often taken responsibility for terror attacks carried out in Europe and elsewhere.

The shooting occurred in the Neudorf neighborhood, where police conducted a search earlier in the day for Chekatt, whom police named as the suspected Christmas market gunman.

Security forces had launched a manhunt across eastern France and neighboring Germany, with police combing Strasbourg for a second day and manning checkpoints on the German border.

Chekatt, 29, was on a watch list as a potential security threat and was known to have developed radical religious views while incarcerated for previous offenses.

Chekatt had 27 criminal convictions for theft and violence, and had spent time in French, German, and Swiss jails.

Strasbourg’s mayor has said the attack was “indisputably an act of terrorism.”

France raised its security threat to the highest level following the December 11 incident.