Irish holidaymakers in France warned to 'exercise caution' with Strasbourg gunman still on loose

Irish holidaymakers in France warned to 'exercise caution' with Strasbourg gunman still on loose

IRISH people holidaying in France have been warned to exercise a high degree of caution as the manhunt continues for a gunman who killed two people in Strasbourg.

Suspected terrorist Chérif Chekatt, 29, remains at large since opening fire at the eastern French city's famous Christmas market on Tuesday night, leaving two dead and one person brain-dead. Several others were injured.

Hundreds of police officers and soldiers have been deployed in the search for Chekatt along the Franco-German border, blocking bridges that link the two nations.

In a statement, Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs advised Irish people in France to remain vigilant while travelling in the country.

"The Embassy is monitoring the security incident in Strasbourg. Heightened security measures are in place in the area," a DFA spokesperson said.

"French police advise those in the area to remain vigilant and follow the instructions of the local authorities."

Career criminal

Chekatt, who shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest") as he opened fire, has 27 previous convictions for offences including armed robbery and is believed to have been radicalised while in prison.

He had been flagged for extremism and was on a terror watch list, but French authorities said "the signs were weak" despite his extensive criminal record dating back to the age of just 13.

Several of Chekatt's family members including his mother, father and two brothers were detained for questioning on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, France raised its three-tier threat index to the highest level in the wake of the incident and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced a strengthening of security forces to secure other Christmas markets.

Deadly rampage

One of the two people killed in the attack has been named as Anupong Suebsamarn, 45, a tourist from Thailand, while an Afghan mechanic left in a coma after being shot is not expected to recover.

Six other victims were left fighting for their lives in hospital and several others were injured, including an Italian journalist and a soldier who was hurt by a ricocheting bullet during an exchange of fire with Chekatt.

According to Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, three people tried to stop the gunman during his rampage, one of whom was stabbed but not killed.

Chekatt is believed to have been injured in an exchange of fire with anti-terror soldiers patrolling the Christmas market before fleeing the scene in a taxi.

After getting out of the cab in the city's southern Neudorf district, he again exchanged gunfire with police before disappearing.

UPDATE: Chérif Chekatt was shot dead by police on Thursday night