French President Emmanuel Macron visited the Strasbourg Christmas market this evening to pay his respects to the victims of a jihadist gunman who was killed in a shoot-out with police last night.
The president went to the market and laid a single white rose at a nearby monument to the terrorist outrage and stood silently for over two minutes in tribute after the official re-opening of the market at 11:00am this morning.
As he looked solemn and closed his eyes in reflection, the crowd spontaneously began singling La Marseillaise – the French national anthem – in memory of the fallen victims.
He then hugged market stallholders, shook hands with the crowd and was handed an gift from a trader.
Macron earlier met with some members of the police involved in the hunt for Chekatt for more than half an hour, including the four soldiers of Operation Sentinel who injured the gunman during the attack on Tuesday night.
One of the officers recounted how one of the shooter’s bullet ricocheted off his assault rifle during the gun battle.
Macron also spoke with police officers who exchanged fire with the jihadist and the man who shot him dead last night, congratulating them for their ‘courage’ and their ‘professionalism’.
Macron, who earlier in the day took part in a European Union summit in Brussels, then met with families of the victims of the attack.
Scroll down for video.
French President Emmanuel Macron lay a white rose at a monument near the Christmas market in Strasbourg’s Kleber square, used as a makeshift memorial for the victims of the December 11 attack who killed four people
As Macron looked solemn and closed his eyes in reflection, the crowd spontaneously began singling La Marseillaise in memory of the fallen victims
President Macron visited Strasbourg to pay his respects to the victims of Tuesday’s terrorist attack at a nearby monument where flowers, candles and cards were laid
Macron hugging a visitor to the Christmas market, as he visited the terror attack scene in Strasbourg today
President Emmanuel Macron was given a Christmas teddy bear as a gift from a visitor of the market as he met with the crowd
The 29-year-old was said to be a small-time criminal turned jihadist who went on a shooting spray on Tuesday evening in Strasbourg’s popular Christmas market.
Chekatt, who was born in this eastern French city, killed four and wounded 12 before going to ground for 48 hours in his home district.
Police finally caught up with him yesterday evening in a warehouse in the Plaine des Bouchers area of Strasbourg and he was killed after opening fire on a street police patrol.
His victims were a Thai tourist, on holiday in Strasbourg with his wife, an Afghan who sought refuge in France some 20 years ago, a 28-year-old Italian journalist in town to cover the European parliament, and a local Frenchman who had just retired.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte tweeted his ‘deep sorrow’ at the death of Antonio Megalizzi, who became the fourth victim when he passed away in hospital.
While in Strasbourg Macron also visited the Christmas market, which reopened Friday morning after being closed for two days.
He placed a white rose on the Kleber monument, in the centre of town, where locals have been placing flowers and lighting candles since Tuesday’s deadly attack.
Macron also shook hands with visitors of the Christmas market in Strasbourg as he paid his respects to the victims of Tuesday’s attack
Macron met crowds of people as he paid his respect at the Christmas market today after it re-opened this morning
Crowds of Strasbourg market visitors greeted President Macron as he walked through the market stalls and shook hands with shoppers and stall-holders
Macron getting into a car and leaving after visiting the Christmas market in Strasbourg following his meeting with police officers involved in the hunt for gunman Chekatt
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner accompanied Macron to Strasbourg.
But French minister denied the shooter was an ISIS soldier, despite the group claiming responsibility for him soon after his death, but said he was a ‘man consumed by evil’.
The terror group last night claimed Chekatt was acting for them when he killed four and injured 12 in a gun and knife rampage on Tuesday night.
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner dismissed the claim as ‘completely opportunistic’.
‘We’re dealing with a man who was consumed by evil,’ he said while visiting the market which re-opened this morning with a heavy police presence as cops investigated if Chekatt had any accomplices.
Following the attack the threat level was raised to its highest, but today the ‘Vigipirate plan’ – France’s national security alert system – was reduced to the level second level of ‘Risk Attack’, the French government said.
As the Christmas market reopened armed police and soldiers patrolled the area.
Neutralised: Three policemen found Cherif Chekatt (pictured is his corpse) walking in a street in the Neudorf area of central Strasbourg at 9pm. They tried to stop him but he opened fire and they shot him dead outside a warehouse
The Strasbourg Christmas market gunman was killed by police on Thursday night. Pictured: Police surround the man’s body
Cherif Chekatt, 29, was being hunted by French police after opening fire at a Christmas market in Strasbourg this week, killing four
Cherif Chekatt (pictured is his corpse) opened fire on anti-terror police who tried to stop him outside a warehouse – but was shot dead in the street
Chekatt hid out in a warehouse a few hundred yards from his parents’ house where he grew up in the northeastern French city. Pictured: The aftermath of his killing
A French military patrols during the reopening of the christmas market of Strasbourg, eastern France
Today, the market re-opened with a heavy police presence after Cherif Chekatt was killed by armed cops last night
The market was back to bustling on Friday morning after the terrorist was shot dead on Thursday night in the street
Checkatt, 29, had criminal convictions in France and Germany and was radicalised in jail. Pictured: Armed police at the market
Chekatt’s fourth victim was confirmed dead by a Paris prosecutor on Friday afternoon and was previously described as being in a critical condition.
Two were declared dead at the scene and a third died on Thursday night, with French media reporting a fifth victim remains in a brain dead state.
Jubilant crowds shouted ‘bravo’ and applauded French police last night at the scene where Chekatt was shot dead around 9pm.
More than 720 anti-terror cops had been looking for the 29-year-old for two days after he walked through a Christmas market, shooting and stabbing pedestrians before escaping wounded in a hijacked taxi.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz told a news conference on Friday that seven people are in police custody, including four of his family members.
‘We want to reconstruct the past 48 hours in order to find out whether he got some support,’ Heitz said.
After his escape, Chekatt hid out in a warehouse a few hundred yards from his parents’ house where he grew up in the northeastern French city.
He was tracked down at 9pm on Thursday when police in a patrol car spotted him on a street in a district where he was last seen after Tuesday night’s attack.
Around 800 people had called in tips to a hotline after the authorities released his name and photo Wednesday night, including two which Heitz called ‘decisive’ in finding Chekatt.
The information allowed police to home in on an area in the Neudorf neighbourhood, where he tried to escape into a building after being spotted by a patrol.
Unable to get in the door, he turned and shot at the three officers with a handgun when they tried to approach. Two returned fire and killed him, Heitz said at a press conference in Strasbourg.
A French police officer running during an operation in the Plaine des Bouchers area of Strasbourg near the Neudorf neighbourhood where the suspected ISIS terrorist was gunned down in a shoot-out with cops
French police officers raided a warehouse in Plaine des Bouchers area of Strasbourg near the Neudorf neighbourhood where terrorist Cherif Chekatt was gunned down
French special police forces secured an area during a police operation where the suspected gunman, Cherif Chekatt, was killed last night
Chekatt was killed after firing on police officers, who returned fire, as a police helicopter had been circling overhead
Questions remain over how Chekatt was able to evade the tight security perimeter set up around the Strasbourg Christmas market which has long been a prime target for jihadist groups.
Around 500 police, security agents and soldiers control access at checkpoints on the bridges leading to the river island, a UN World Heritage site, that houses the market.
The goal is to ‘create a bubble with searches at the entry points,’ Mayor Roland Ries said after the attack.
Chekatt was flagged by French security forces in 2015 as a possible Islamic extremist. But Defence Minister Florence Parly rejected criticism that Chekatt’s presence on the country’s so-called ‘S file’ of extremists should have prompted a more proactive reaction from the authorities.
‘You can’t… arrest someone just because you think he might do something,’ Parly told Radio Classique on Friday.
Crowds play Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff where gunman Cherif Chekatt was killed
A French news channel has caused a stir by playing Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff in the background to coverage on last night’s killing of Strasbourg terrorist Cherif Chekatt.
The song was being played by someone in crowds at the scene and was picked up by BFM TV’s microphones.
The channel let the tune play on air during a discussion of Tuesday’s Christmas market attack which killed four and injured 12.
It is believed the onlooker chose the song because of the lyric ‘sheriff’ sounds like the attacker’s first name, Cherif.
Viewers could scarcely believe their ears. One wrote on Twitter: ‘Am I the only one to have heard I Shot the Sheriff behind the footage of the killed terrorist on BFM TV?’
Another added: ‘Surreal! I shot the sheriff is playing in the background.’ BFM has yet to comment.
Police thanked people who spotted him for helping track Chekatt down tweeting: ‘Thank you for your reports that helped to find the wanted individual.’
Police officer Emmanuel Georg told BFM TV station that three police officers patrolling the neighbourhood tried to intercept a suspect corresponding to Chekatt’s description as he was about to enter a building.
The officer said: ‘He opened fired, they responded and managed to shoot him down.’
A witness said he heard shots and rushed to the window to see what was happening and closed the shutters when he spotted the cornered suspect across the street.
Cem Akcakaya said: ‘I was very afraid for my children, I told them to go away, and I went to the side.’
More than 720 French security forces had been hunting for the 29-year-old terrorist since the bloodshed at a Christmas market in the city on Tuesday night
French special police forces secure an area during a police operation in Neudorf in the Meinau district after the deadly shooting in Strasbourg, France
Investigators working on the street during a police operation in which the suspected gunman, Cherif Chekatt, who killed four people at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, was killed this evening
Heavily armed police swooped on the Neudorf neighbourhood of Strasbourg Thursday amid a massive manhunt for the Christmas market shooter
Forensic and armed officers working at the scene where Chekatt was killed in a shoot-out on Thursday night
Checkatt, 29, had 27 criminal convictions in four countries and was radicalised in jail. After his death, ISIS propaganda news agency Amaq claimed he was a ‘soldier’ of Daesh.
Police found weapons and jihadist propaganda in his flat and on Wednesday arrested his parents, two brothers and a friend in connection with the attack. On Friday, they arrested his third brother in Algeria to see if he was involved.
The propaganda wing of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, calling Chekatt one of its ‘soldiers’ who responded to its calls to target citizens of nations in the coalition fighting the jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
Among the 12 injured in the attack, two remain in critical condition while three others have been released from hospital, Castaner said Thursday.
Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries told reporters after news that Chekatt had been killed: ‘I think it will help to get back to a life that I would describe as normal. With the death of this terrorist… citizens, like me, are relieved.’
Neighbours on the housing estate where Chekatt family’s lived described the suspect as a typical young man who dressed in jogging pants and trainers rather than traditional Islamic robes.
A leader of a community group said outside Chekkat’s apartment building in Strasbourg: ‘He was a little gangster, but I didn’t see any signs of him being radicalised.’
The Paris prosecutor’s office said Chekatt’s parents and two brothers were being held in custody, while two of his sisters in Paris were also questioned today and one of their homes was being searched.
Rescue workers walked past hooded police officers standing guard in Strasbourg, eastern France last night, where Chekatt was shot and killed
Hooded police officers block the access in the Meinau district in Strasbourg, eastern France, as the manhunt for the terrorist continued as night fell
Police cars at the scene of the shooting in the Neudorf neighbourhood of Strasbourg this evening as officers in body armour and carrying rifles hunted for Chekatt throughout the day
The Paris prosecutor’s office said Chekatt’s parents and two brothers were being held in custody, while two of his sisters in Paris were also questioned and one of their homes was searched
A hooded police officer holding his gun in Strasbourg, eastern France, as armed officers combed the Neudorf neighbourhood of Strasbourg in search for the gunman
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed ‘the solidarity of the whole country’ towards the victims as he arrived for a European summit in Brussels last night.
‘It is not only France that has been hit… but a great European city as well,’ he added, referring to the seat of the European parliament in the eastern French city that lies on the border with Germany.
A relieved Strasbourg prepared to reopen its popular Christmas market on Friday after French police shot dead the gunman who killed four people there in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.
Cherif Chekatt was killed late Thursday after a two-day manhunt when a police patrol spotted him on a street in the district where he was last seen after Tuesday night’s attack on Christmas shoppers.
The lights on the market’s towering Christmas tree were illuminated Friday for the first time since the attack ahead of the official re-opening of the market at 11am.
‘I hope life will get back to normal but I’m not too sure,’ said Franck Hoffmann as opened his wooden chalet offering Christmas candles and ornaments on Friday.
‘Business isn’t going to be what it was,’ he predicted.
Questions remained over how Chekatt was able to evade the tight security perimeter set up for an event long known to be a prime target for jihadist groups.
Heavily armed French police descended on a street in the Neudorf neighbourhood of Strasbourg on Thursday amid a manhunt for Christmas market shooter Cherif Chekatt
Officers blocked a street in the east of the French city, though it was not immediately clear whether they had tracked Chekatt down
The raid comes two days after Chekatt killed four and wounded 12 after opening fire at the city’s Christmas market before fleeing when he was shot in the shoulder
Officers sweep the streets in Neudorf, the neighbourhood where Chekatt was dropped off by a taxi driver after his rampage
Officers have been searching for two days for any sign of shooter Cherif Chekatt, amid fears he might strike a second time
French special police forces were also spotted in the Meinau neighbourhood, close to Neudorf, while heavily armed
Around 500 police, security agents and soldiers control access at checkpoints on the bridges leading to the river island, a UN World Heritage site, that houses the market.
The goal is to ‘create a bubble with searches at the entry points,’ Mayor Roland Ries said after the attack, while regional government representative Jean-Luc Marx said he had not determined ‘any flaws in the security measures’.
Many residents, however, were not convinced after Chekatt managed to slip through the controls with a handgun and a knife.
‘It doesn’t surprise me,’ said Emeline, 38, who works in the city centre. ‘You wear a heavy coat, put something in the bottom of your bag. You can bring in what you want.’
France’s anti-terror prosecutor Remy Heitz is to hold a press conference in Strasbourg on Friday while Interior Minister Christophe Castaner will attend the reopening of the market, which usually draws two million people every year.
France has been on high alert since the start of a wave of jihadist attacks in 2015, which prompted a threefold surge in the security budget for the market, to one million euros.
French police have appealed for members of the public to look for Chekatt and to contact them if they have information, but not to approach him
In total 720 police and gendarmes had been searching for Chekatt across a vast swathe of eastern France, using helicopters, roadside searches and border surveillance
Hundreds of troops were also drafted in to guard public places, including Christmas markets, amid fears Chekatt will attack again
Anupong Suebsamarn, 45, who was shot dead at the market had not initially planned to be there and was supposed to be in Paris, but changed his plans at the last minute
Police warned that Chekatt should be considered dangerous and that members of the public should inform authorities and not approach him
Chekatt, a 29-year-old career criminal who lived in a rundown apartment block a short drive from the city centre, was flagged by French security forces in 2015 as a possible Islamic extremist.
Strasbourg’s deputy mayor Alain Fontanel admitted that despite patrols, plainclothes police, profilers and video surveillance, ‘the risks can be reduced, but not eliminated’.
‘We can’t pat down and search everyone, only carry out random checks,’ he said, adding that huge lines at checkpoints would only create a new potential target for terrorists.
‘Someone who wants to get in an area this big with a weapon can do it,’ he said.
Such reasoning was little comfort to the residents and tourists who flock to the Strasbourg market.
‘We thought this would happen only in Nice or at the Bataclan, but here it is at home,’ said Sylvain, who works at another market in the city centre.
He was referring to the truck attack which killed scores at Bastille Day festivities in Nice, southern France, in 2016, and the massacre at the capital’s Bataclan concert hall in November 2015.
‘I’m not going to forget this anytime soon. It’s too painful. I’m not even sure I’m able to cry,’ he said.
Residents of Strasbourg’s Neudorf neighborhood expressed relief, such as Pierre Plasse, who said: ‘Everybody’s quite happy that the killer has been finally shot. I think now, the city and life can keep going on in Strasbourg.’
Yellow Vests urged to stay off the streets
The French government has urged Yellow Vest protesters to hold off another round of demonstrations scheduled to take place in Paris this weekend.
Spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said ministers decided against banning the marches outright, but asked people to be ‘reasonable’ amid a massive manhunt for Strasbourg shooter Cherif Chekatt.
It comes after conspiracy theorists accused the government of staging the terror attack in order to quash the Yellow Vest movement.
Writing in online forums, one protester said: ‘You’ll see next week there won’t be a single yellow vest. Well played, Macron.’
President Emmanuel Macron has already offered the marchers a £9billion package of concessions including pay rises and tax cuts.
But many complained that the measures were too little, too late, and vowed to continue with weeks of protests, which have often turned violent.
‘Our security forces have been deployed extensively these past few weeks,’ Griveaux said, while insisting that ‘it’s not up to us to say if the movement should be called off or not.’
In the wake of the Strasbourg attack, ‘it would be better if everyone could go about their business calmly on Saturday, before the year-end celebrations with their families, instead of demonstrating and putting our security forces to work once again.’
Last Saturday nearly 90,000 police were mobilised across the country for the protests, with 8,000 officers and a dozen armoured vehicles deployed in the capital where scores of stores, museums and monuments were closed.
Candlelit vigils were held in Strasbourg for the victims of the shooting on Wednesday. Four people died and 12 more were wounded
People lay candles and flowers in tribute to those who died in Place Kléber, in Strasbourg