A large-scale manhunt is under way for a suspected extremist gunman who killed three near a Christmas market in Strasbourg.
Authorities in France have launched a terror investigation into the shooting, with interior minister Christophe Castaner saying 350 officers are hunting for the man who was already known to security services.
In the wake of the attack, which has also left 11 injured, of which five are in a critical condition, the French government has increased its security alert system Vigipirate to its highest level.
Mr Castaner said: “Three hundred and fifty police and gendarmes are currently on the ground to apprehend the suspect, supported by two helicopters, the RAID (French anti-terror police), the BRI (anti-gang brigade) and the Sentinel force.
“The government has decided to move the security level to “Emergency Attack” with stricter controls at the borders, and the implementation of reinforced controls on all the Christmas markets that are taking place in France to avoid the risk of copycat attacks.”
Stephane Morisse, from the FGP Police union, said authorities investigating a robbery went to the alleged gunman’s Strasbourg home earlier on Tuesday, but he was not there.
The suspect was shot and injured by soldiers guarding the Christmas market, but he escaped in a taxi, BFM TV said.
It is understood the Foreign Office has not yet received any reports of British nationals caught up in the shooting.
In the aftermath, residents were urged to stay indoors and the nearby European Parliament was placed on lockdown.
Fans attending a basketball game were also kept behind and began to sing the French national anthem in “homage to the victims”.
The mayor of Strasbourg Roland Ries said the Christmas market will be closed on Wednesday and flags will be lowered to half-mast.
He tweeted: “A book of condolences will be opened at the Town Hall from today.
“I want to thank the people of Strasbourg and visitors to the city for their patience and understanding.”
France has been hit by several extremist attacks in recent years, including the 2015 Paris shootings which left 130 people dead and wounded hundreds more.
In 2016 a truck was driven into Bastille Day crowds in Nice, killing 86 people and leaving hundreds injured.
Twelve people were killed and 48 were injured when a man drove a truck into crowds at a Christmas market in Berlin in 2016.