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Police look at whether Strasbourg attacker had accomplices

French prosecutor announces fourth victim has died from wounds suffered in Christmas market attackFrench police are investigating whether the gunman who killed four people in an attack near Strasbourg’s Christmas market had accomplices.Chérif Chakatt was shot dead by police in Strasbourg on Thursday night after a 48-hour manhunt. Continue reading...

French police are investigating whether the gunman who killed four people in an attack near Strasbourg’s Christmas market had accomplices.

Chérif Chakatt was shot dead by police in Strasbourg on Thursday night after a 48-hour manhunt.

The 29-year-old, from Strasbourg, who had a criminal record for theft and violence dating back to the age of 10, had escaped police after his deadly rampage in the city on Tuesday night.

Authorities announced on Friday that a fourth victim had died. “The person had been fighting for their life,” an official in the Paris prosecutor’s office said. A fifth person is in a coma and 11 others are injured.

Rémy Heitz, the French prosecutor, said that after a two-day manhunt by more than 700 officers, three local police officers patrolling in the Neudorf area of Strasbourg on Thursday night saw a man corresponding to Chakatt’s description. He is believed to have been wearing a long, black winter coat as he stood near a building on a residential street.

Chakatt noticed the marked police car and tried to enter a building. When the officers shouted “Police”, he turned around and opened fire at them.

“A projectile hit the police vehicle above the left rear door. Two police officers responded, shooting several times, and killed him,” the prosecutor said.

Christophe Castaner talks to the press during the reopening of the market
Christophe Castaner, France’s interior minister, talks to the press at the reopening of the market on Friday. Photograph: Sébastien Bozon/AFP/Getty

Investigators found a gun, a knife and ammunition on Chekatt’s body. One gun corresponded to descriptions of the gun used in the shooting on Tuesday night. The Paris prosecutor’s office later formally identified the man as Chekatt and said he died at the scene at 9:05pm.

The prosecutor said investigators had focused their search on the Neudorf area of Strasbourg, in part thanks to witness information. An appeal for witnesses led to about 800 calls, many of which were “decisive”, including one from a man who had seen the suspect jumping over a gate. Police had lost track of Chakatt in Neudorf on Tuesday night after he opened fire in the city centre at several locations before taking a taxi to Neudorf, where he shot at police and fled.

The prosecutor said seven people were in police custody, including four of Chakatt’s family members. Three of his entourage had also been arrested, one on Thursday morning and one overnight.

Police are looking at whether Chekatt had help preparing his attack and whether he was assisted or sheltered during his two days hiding from police.

Chakatt was well-known to police. He received his first conviction at 13, and had 26 more. He served jail time in France, Germany and Switzerland.

For the past two years he had been under surveillance as a potential security risk after the French prison services raised questions about suspected radicalisation in jail.

France’s interior minister, Christophe Castaner, on Friday dismissed a claim by Islamic State that it was responsible for the Strasbourg attack.

Castaner described as “completely opportunistic” a Twitter post by the propaganda wing of Isis, which claimed that Chakatt was one of its “soldiers”. Castaner said: “We’re dealing with a man who was consumed by evil.”

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