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Strasbourg shooting: Suspect who was on terror watchlist 'may have crossed into Germany' 

Strasbourg shooting: Suspect who was on terror watchlist 'may have crossed into Germany' The manhunt for a suspected terrorist who killed two and left a third victim with irreversible brain damage in Strasbourg, eastern France, spread to Germany on Wednesday as authorities confirmed he shouted “Allahu Akbar” before opening fire. Another 12 people were injured, with at least two in a critical condition from head injuries. The Strasbourg-born suspect has been named as 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt, who is believed to have gone on the" killing spree with a gun and long knife near the city’s famed Christmas market, visited by two million people every year. Speaking after the attack Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said: “The terrorist threat is still at the heart of the life of our nation.”  As police launched a call for witnesses and 720 officers hunted for the suspect, questions were raised last night as to why he was considered a potentially dangerous radical in France but nothing more than a common criminal in Germany. Rémy Heitz, the Paris prosecutor, said the suspect had 27 previous convictions in France, Germany and Switzerland for theft and armed robbery. Cherif Chekatt, the Strasbourg terror suspect Credit: Twitter He was first flagged to authorities at the age of 10. He was added to a watchlist of potential Islamist while in prison in France in 2015 for “practising a radical form of religion”. Since then, France's domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI, has kept tabs on him. However, a spokeswoman of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office, which handles cases related to terrorism, said they had been given no indication of this, saying: "For us, he was a blank slate.” Chekatt has served time in German prison for several robberies. An interior ministry spokeswoman said Germany was totally unaware of any Islamist link.  The suspect is one of 25,000 people currently on France’s "S" watchlist of individuals seen as potential security threats. Speaking to French MPs, Laurent Nunez, deputy interior minister, said that while he was monitored, “unfortunately, radicalisation was never detected and even less a desire to commit a violent act”. Strasbourg shooting map German authorities were on alert for the fugitive along the Rhine river bordering France and Germany, said a spokesman from the Baden-Wuerttemberg region. "But at the moment we do not believe that he has crossed into the country," he added. Police had tried to detain Cherif on Tuesday morning in connection with an attempted murder inquiry, but he was not at home. They found a grenade, a rifle and four knives during a search on Tuesday morning of the suspect’s house. Four members of his entourage were being detained for questioning. These reportedly include his parents and two brothers, one of him, according to Le Parisien, is believed to be a follower of Salafism, an ultra-conservative form of Islam. He was shot in the arm during an exchange of fire with French soldiers in the city centre and then forced a taxi driver to take him to another part of the city. Later, he crossed four policemen. They riposted when he opened fire but he managed to flee once again. Thoughts with victims in #Strasbourg shootings - I am safe and in @Europarl_EN— Sajjad Karim MEP Conservative (@SHKMEP) December 11, 2018 At the drab housing estate where he lived in Hohberg on the outskirts of Strasbourg, neighbours were adamant Chekatt was no Islamist but a cornered criminal who had “lost his marbles”. “For us, he wasn’t radicalised, he was a thug,” a resident called Zak, 22, told the Telegraph. “He lost the plot because he had botched an armed robbery beforehand. He knew the police were after him. He had a criminal history and knew he was looking at 10 years or so he lost it.” He said the district was very mixed in terms of religion and everyone lived “in harmony”. Police officers secure a street and the surrounding area after a shooting in Strasbourg Credit:  VINCENT KESSLER/Reuters Toufik Elkiri, 33, a taxi driver whose colleague had been held hostage by the gunman, said: “I’m a practicing Muslim and have never seen him at any of the mosques around here. He smoked too much pot. Friends saw him drinking beer the other day. But there’s nothing religious or radicalised about him.” Central Strasbourg was eerily quiet last night with the Christmas market and its wooden chalets offering mulled wine, foie gras and truffles all shut. The market will remain closed on Thursday. In rue des Orfèvres, flowers and candles were laid out at the spot the gunman shot his first victim. One message read: “All united against barbarity”. Lidia Molinari, 22, a sociology student who lives in rue des Orfèvres where the shooting started, said: “I was at home and heard shots fired.” Tourists staying in a flat she manages nearby were caught up in the drama. French police say several people have been injured in the city centre Credit: petervdalen/Twitter “They saw everything, the shots, people lying on the floor, blood everywhere. They decided to shorten their stay and return to Paris,” she said. Pensioner Isabelle Tardot, 60, from Gerstheim outside Strasbourg, said: “We’re here out of solidarity, support. It doesn’t scare us but we feel terrible for the victims.” Only one has been named, Anupong Suebsamarn, a 45-year old tourist from Thailand in Strasbourg with his wife, who was injured.  Among those in a critical condition was an Italian journalist covering the European parliament, according to his country's foreign ministry. Poland's embassy in Paris tweeted that one of its citizens was also among the victims. Mrs Tardot's husband, Philippe, 62, said: “I hope they open the market up again otherwise it’s too easy for one person to stop millions of people from enjoying Christmas. We can’t let that happen.” 10:50PM May 'shocked' by Strasbourg shootings Prime Minister Theresa May has said she is "shocked and saddened" by the "terrible" attack in Strasbourg. Mrs May tweeted: "My thoughts are with all of those affected and with the French people." Shocked and saddened by the terrible attack in Strasbourg. My thoughts are with all of those affected and with the French people.— Theresa May (@theresa_may) December 11, 2018   10:37PM More from the ground in Strasbourg A student, Glenn Essoly, says she has sought refuge with other people in a library. “We don’t know how long we’ll have to stay here. We’re hoping it won’t be all night. We really hope it will be over soon but we don’t have any information.” A waiter from a restaurant near the scene of the shooting described on BFM TV how staff and customers tried to save a man who stepped outside and was shot in the head. “We used napkins to try to stem the blood,” he said. He said the man had died. 10:23PM Reports of a second suspect According to Strasbourg town hall, another operation is taking place at Place Broglie. "There is a strong suspicion that a second person" may be implicated in the shooting, police sources told Le Figaro. 10:15PM Attacker's date of birth released French media have given the attacker’s date of birth - 4 February 1989 - but officials have yet to release a name. 10:13PM Border checks strengthened  With the attacker still on the run, the French and German authorities have strengthened checks on the border, which is near Strasbourg. 10:06PM Witnesses describe seeing multiple victims Alain Moyemont, a witness, told BFM TV: “I saw people in the crowd running in panic after the shooting started. At least two people were on the ground.” Philippe, a local resident, told Europe 1 radio: “I saw a person on the ground, unconscious and bleeding. There was another person on the ground just behind, and one or two more a bit further along the street.” 9:56PM 'European Parliament will not be intimidated'  President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani tweeted a message of condolence and defiance against the attacker.  I express all my sorrow for the victims of the Strasbourg attacks. This Parliament will not be intimidated by terrorist or criminal attacks. Let us move on. We will continue to work and react strengthened by freedom and democracy against terrorist violence.— Antonio Tajani (@EP_President) December 11, 2018   9:49PM Grenade found at attacker's home  Police raided the attacker’s home this morning in connection with another case, and found at least one grenade, BFM TV reports 9:48PM French terror attacks The Strasbourg attack is the latest in a string of recent terror attacks in France. In August 2017, a BMW 2-Series Active Tourer was driven into a group of soldiers in a suburb of Paris. Six people were injured, three seriously. The driver was then stopped on the A16 motorway, being shot several times in the process. That June, a Renault Megane containing explosives and weapons was driven into a Gendarmerie vehicle on the Champs-Élysées in Paris . Only the attacker was killed in what is understood to be a 'botched' suicide attack. In July 2016, a lorry was driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day near the seafront in Nice killing. 87 people, including the attacker, and injuring a further 458. 9:28PM Shooter born in Strasbourg The Strasbourg attacker is said to be aged 29 and Strasbourg-born, but now name has been disclosed. According to BFM TV, the attacker is on the “S” file terror watch list. The man was identified thanks to security footage, according to Le Parisien. 9:10PM Soldiers wounded attacker The attacker was wounded by soldiers before fleeing, police say. The soldiers who wounded the attacker were on patrol in Strasbourg as part of the “Sentinel” anti-terrorism operation. Armed soldiers and police have been patrolling the streets of French cities since the 2015 Paris attacks. 9:07PM Shooting being treated as terror attack  Authorities say they are treating the attack as a terrorist act. Anti-terrorist prosecutors have opened an investigation. 8:53PM Death toll rises to two  Two people are now reported dead and 11 injured, with at least two in critical condition after the attack.  8:51PM Emergency phone line The French authorities have set up an emergency line for people with relatives or friends who may have been caught up in the attack . It is: 00-33- (0)811 000 667. 8:45PM Attacker identified The attacker, who is "on the run”, has been identified, the Prefecture says, but it has not made the name public. Police continue to hunt for the attacker. 8:29PM Macron informed on Strasbourg latest  The office of Emmanuel Macron says the President is being kept informed of unfolding events in Strasbourg as the Interior Minister travels to the scene.   Police secure a street and the surrounding area after a shooting in Strasbourg Credit: VINCENT KESSLER/Reuters   8:25PM Attacker on the run  The regional state prefecture has confirmed that an attacker is "on the run". 8:22PM Fire brigade increases number of injured The local fire brigade have reported one person dead and nine injured. The motive for the shooting and the identities of the attackers are still unknown.  8:17PM Residents told to stay inside  The French Interior Minister is advising residents of the eastern city to stay indoors as more details begin to emerge on the shooting incident. 8:15PM European Parliament on lockdown A contact at the European Parliament in Strasbourg has told the Telegraph that all EU staff and MEPs have been locked inside the building. "We ask you to stay calm and stay safe within EP premises," read a message to staff.

POSTED DECEMBER 12, 2018 7:49 AM

US military identifies 5 dead in warplanes crash off Japan

US military identifies 5 dead in warplanes crash off JapanTOKYO (AP) — The U.S. military has identified five Marines who were declared dead after their refueling plane collided with a fighter jet last week off Japan's southern coast.

POSTED DECEMBER 12, 2018 8:59 AM

Ex-Trump aide Flynn does not deserve jail, lawyers say

Ex-Trump aide Flynn does not deserve jail, lawyers sayUS President Donald Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn does not deserve jail for lying about his contacts with Russians after Trump's 2016 election win, his lawyers argued in a memorandum on Tuesday. In a court filing before his December 18 sentencing in Washington, the lawyers asked that he be sentenced to a maximum of one year on probation, with minimal supervision conditions along with 200 hours of community service. The request is in line with a recommendation last week from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

POSTED DECEMBER 11, 2018 11:54 PM

Chinese state media urges Canada to defy U.S., free Huawei exec

Chinese state media urges Canada to defy U.S., free Huawei execSHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Canada should distance itself from U.S. "hegemonism" and grant unconditional freedom to Meng Wanzhou, a top executive of China's Huawei detained in Vancouver on Washington's request, state-owned tabloid Global Times said in a Thursday editorial. Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, has been accused by U.S. prosecutors of misleading banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating sanctions. The United States needs to make a formal extradition request within 60 days of her arrest, which a Canadian judge will weigh to determine whether the case against Meng is strong enough.

POSTED DECEMBER 12, 2018 10:58 PM

'Christmas miracle': 3 suspected thieves rescued after days in West Virginia mine

'Christmas miracle': 3 suspected thieves rescued after days in West Virginia mineThree people who disappeared in a closed West Virginia mine five days ago have been rescued and taken to a hospital in what a family member called a "Christmas miracle."

POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2018 10:34 AM

At least $9bn in insurance claims from California fires

At least $9bn in insurance claims from California firesInsurance claims from the recent devastating California wildfires that killed at least 89 people and destroyed 19,000 homes and businesses have reached at least $9 billion, the state's insurance commissioner said Wednesday. "The devastating wildfires of 2018 were the deadliest and costliest wildfire catastrophes in California's history," said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. Most of the insurance payouts -- some $7 billion -- concern the Camp Fire in Northern California, which wiped out the town of Paradise and killed 86 people, making it the deadliest wildfire in recent California history.

POSTED DECEMBER 12, 2018 8:04 PM

AD and LIFEWTR Celebrate the Opening of The Haas Brothers: Ferngully at The Bass Museum of Art in Miami

AD and LIFEWTR Celebrate the Opening of The Haas Brothers: Ferngully at The Bass Museum of Art in Miami

POSTED DECEMBER 13, 2018 4:54 PM

Stacey Abrams Says She’ll Run Again After Losing Fierce Battle For Georgia Governor

Stacey Abrams Says She’ll Run Again After Losing Fierce Battle For Georgia GovernorStacey Abrams is not done yet.

POSTED DECEMBER 12, 2018 12:53 AM

Palestinians offer new details of Israel's botched Gaza raid

Palestinians offer new details of Israel's botched Gaza raidGAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The small town of Abassan in the Gaza Strip is a tough place to infiltrate — everyone knows everyone else and outsiders passing through quickly attract attention. So when strangers drove through town, suspicious Hamas security men stopped the van and questioned those inside.

POSTED DECEMBER 12, 2018 8:38 AM

Chérif Chekatt: Everything you need to know about Strasbourg terror suspect

Chérif Chekatt: Everything you need to know about Strasbourg terror suspectThe gunman suspected of killing three people and injuring 13 near Strasbourg’s Christmas Market served several terms in prison for armed robbery and is believed to have been radicalised in prison. 29-year-old Chérif Chekatt has been on France’s “S” file terrorist watch list since 2015, and his profile matches that of self-styled “jihadists” who have carried out other attacks in France.  Born in Strasbourg, he is a French citizen and has some 27 convictions in France, Germany and Switzerland to his name, according to Strasbourg's public prosecutor Rémy Heitz. In 2016, he was released from prison in Germany and, before the attack on Tuesday night, was wanted in connection with an attempted murder and an armed robbery, according to a source close to the investigation. On Tuesday morning, police raided Mr Chekatt's home and found grenades, a .22 firearm and two hunting knives, but failed to capture him. Five associates were, however, detained. The suspect lived alone in a rundown Strasbourg housing estate. "His family has lived around here for a while, but he lived on his own nearby," Zach, 22, a resident of the Poteries district, told AFP. "He was discreet, not a thug.” Strasbourg shooting map “He fell into crime when he was still in his teens,” the source said. He was known to police from the age of 10, and received his first conviction at 13. In 2011 he was jailed for six months for assaulting a teenager with a broken bottle, and completed his last prison sentence in France in at the end of 2015, around the same time as the November 13 Paris attacks that left 130 dead. He went on to serve a further jail term in Germany for robbing a dental practice and a pharmacy, and was deported to France last year after completing his sentence.  The suspected motive for the shootings on Tuesday night is terrorism. “Terrorism has again struck our soil,” said Mr Heitz at a press conference on Wednesday, noting that witnesses heard the gunman shout "Allahu Akbar" during the attack.  Laurent Nunez, the junior interior minister, said: “The individual appears to have been radicalised in his religious practices during his prison terms.” Specialised anti-terrorist prosecutors are in charge of the investigation. In prison, the suspect became known for violence and  repeated attempts to convert fellow-inmates to a radical form of Islam.  Before the Strasbourg attack, he was considered to be an extremely high-risk suspect, intelligence sources said.  France’s DGSI, the domestic intelligence service, placed him under "active" surveillance following his release from a French prison in 2015, Mr Nunez said. As a child in Strasbourg, he grew up alongside six brothers and sisters. Although he worked for local authorities after leaving school, he had not been employed since 2011. Investigators are trying to establish whether Mr Chekatt travelled to Syria or Iraq to join an Islamist group, or whether he was radicalised entirely in France, according to sources close to the case.

POSTED DECEMBER 12, 2018 7:43 AM

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