With a major operation underway to find the suspect, France has raised its threat level and introduced extra security and border controls, as well as a ban on public assemblies in Strasbourg, following the Christmas market attack.
The city of Strasbourg was subject to a “reinforced grid,” French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Tuesday night, hours after the attack on the market left three people dead and 12 others injured. “We are currently in a reinforced vigipirate stance,” he said, noting that demonstrations are now banned in the city to allow a “total” police mobilization to ensure public safety.
Announcing that protests and public demonstrations have been temporarily banned in the city, the minister explained this would allow the police to “totally mobilize” to ensure public safety.
"All assemblies, either stationary or as a march (cortege), are banned until the order is rescinded. Anyone in breach of the order will be subject to the penalties provided-for by law," Strasbourg authorities said in the official notice of the protest assembly ban, issued immediately after Castaner's statement.
Additional resources are being deployed to Strasbourg to help local units engage in a search for the suspect. More than 350 policemen and gendarmes were hunting down the attacker on Tuesday night. They were supported by helicopters and members of the RAID, the BRI and Opération Sentinelle forces, the minister said.
Castaner confirmed that the shooter had previously been placed on the ‘Fiche S’ list of potential security threats. The suspect, he said, was to be arrested Tuesday morning in relation to an attempted homicide but was not at home when the police units arrived to get him.'
Read more: ‘Total mobilization’: Strasbourg bans public demos amid massive manhunt for Christmas market gunman
Inevitable threat? Strasbourg gunman was on terror watch list, had grenades at home
'The gunman who shot multiple victims in Strasbourg had previously been convicted and was known to French intelligence as a possible ‘security risk,’ yet managed to slip through the cracks despite tightened security across France.
“The author of these acts, listed as a security threat, had been sought by police,” the regional prefecture confirmed. Yet he has managed to escape arrest earlier in the day, before carrying out the attack near the Christmas market at around 8pm on Tuesday evening.
There are so many people that are involved around the edges of this sort of terrorism if this is what it turns out to be, that you can't keep any sort of meaningful surveillance on them. Even just monitoring the use of communications and social media would be too much,” Peter Kirkham, former London police inspector, told RT.'