At around 8 pm CET a single gunman opened fire on a street near Strasbourg’s Christmas market.
Witnesses reported hearing soldiers from a routine anti-terrorism patrol saying they had been shot at. The AFP news agency reported that the military had returned fire and injured the man before he fled.
The gunman was still on the run and security would be strengthened at all Christmas markets and border controls reinforced, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.
As many as 350 police and military, two helicopters, among other forces were deployed to catch the suspect, he added.
The minister also announced that the country’s “Vigipirate” security threat level would be raised. The mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, said that the city’s Christmas market would be closed on Wednesday, and all cultural events would be cancelled for the day.
At least three people died and 12 were wounded, six seriously.
The French interior ministry said that the man had been identified shortly after the incident and was known to the police as a potential threat to security.
Two police sources told Reuters the attacker had been identified as a 29-year old man. His motive for the attack was not known, said the Paris prosecutor.
The attack happened near the Christmas market on the Rue des Orfevres in the city centre. The surrounding area was put on lockdown, as was the European Parliament where MEPs were assembled.
Police evacuated Strasbourg centre and instructed people to leave via the north and “not to go in the direction of Neudorf”. The area was put on lockdown.