Sinn Fein MEP and staff flee Strasbourg gunman amid pandemonium

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A Sinn Fein MEP and her staff were among those forced to flee when a gunman opened fire at the Christmas market in Strasbourg.

Martina Anderson and three members of her staff were among the crowds enjoying the Christmas market at Place Kleber when they heard the shots.

The evening had been a leaving do for one of Ms Anderson’s staff members.

“We had just been walking away from the market down a street deciding what restaurant to go to, the incident was at the bottom of that street, and suddenly it was pandemonium,” she told the Press Association.

“I heard the first shot and thought it was fireworks, I didn’t initially think shots, then there was another one, and another one and I knew then, obviously with growing up in the Bogside and what we had gone through in the conflict.

“We were running in the other direction, telling people to run back and get back.

“There were people coming out of apartments and hotels, one woman came out with a child and I told her to go back in.

“We knew something was wrong, but there was so much confusion, it was only when we went on social media we saw footage of people lying injured.

Martina Anderson
Martina Anderson said her thoughts and prayers were with all who were injured (Nick Ansell/PA)

Ms Anderson was first elected as one of Northern Ireland’s three MEPs in 2012.

Since then she said she has spent a significant amount of time in Strasbourg, one of the European Parliament’s homes, but had not managed a visit to the Christmas market.

She said she went as she thought it might be her last opportunity, with Brexit looming next March.

“So many people had said to me, you must see the Christmas market, and I just thought, seeing as we are getting kicked out of the EU, this will be my last December here,” she said.

“There was a lot of children and families out enjoying themselves. I was gobsmacked when I saw the tree, so beautifully decorated, I could understand why people had said to me I had to see it.”

Ms Anderson said she had noticed an army presence and that handbags were being searched in the vicinity of the market before the incident as they had arrived.

She said that after the event there was a huge amount of confusion and some public transport had stopped running.

But overwhelmingly, she said her thoughts and prayers were with those who had been killed and injured in the attack, as well as their families.

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