French police try to catch Strasbourg terror attack suspect, dead or alive
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French police try to catch Strasbourg terror attack suspect, dead or alive

Over 700 officers take part in manhunt for jihadist Cherif Chekatt, 29, who has been convicted 27 times and was on an extremism watch list

  • French police officers patrol in the streets of Strasbourg, France, on December 13, 2018, two days after a deadly terror attack in the city. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
    French police officers patrol in the streets of Strasbourg, France, on December 13, 2018, two days after a deadly terror attack in the city. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
  • A woman lights a candle to pay respects to the victims of a deadly terror attack in Strasbourg, eastern France, two days after the attack, on Thursday, December 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
    A woman lights a candle to pay respects to the victims of a deadly terror attack in Strasbourg, eastern France, two days after the attack, on Thursday, December 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
  • People pay respects at the site of a deadly terror attack in Strasbourg, eastern France, two days after the attack, on Thursday, December 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
    People pay respects at the site of a deadly terror attack in Strasbourg, eastern France, two days after the attack, on Thursday, December 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
  • French police officers patrol in Strasbourg, France, in front of flowers commemorating the victims of a deadly December 11, 2018, terror attack, on Thursday, December 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
    French police officers patrol in Strasbourg, France, in front of flowers commemorating the victims of a deadly December 11, 2018, terror attack, on Thursday, December 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
  • Members of the French police unit BRI stand guard on the Pont de l'Europe (Europe Bridge), crossing the border with Germany over the river Rhine in Strasbourg, on December 12, 2018. (Frederick Florin/AFP)
    Members of the French police unit BRI stand guard on the Pont de l'Europe (Europe Bridge), crossing the border with Germany over the river Rhine in Strasbourg, on December 12, 2018. (Frederick Florin/AFP)
  • Members of the French police special forces unit RAID search the banks of the river Rhine in Strasbourg during a manhunt for the gunman who carried out a deadly shooting at a Strasbourg Christmas market, on December 12, 2018. (Frederick Florin/AFP)
    Members of the French police special forces unit RAID search the banks of the river Rhine in Strasbourg during a manhunt for the gunman who carried out a deadly shooting at a Strasbourg Christmas market, on December 12, 2018. (Frederick Florin/AFP)

PARIS (AP) — French security forces were trying to catch the suspected Strasbourg gunman dead or alive, an official said Thursday, two days after an attack near the city’s Christmas market.

Local authorities, meanwhile, increased the death toll in the attack to three. The attack left 13 others wounded, including five in serious condition, the prefecture of the Strasbourg region said.

More than 700 officers were involved in the manhunt for 29-year-old suspected jihadist Cherif Chekatt, who had been flagged for extremism, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told CNews television.

Prosecutors have opened a terror investigation into Tuesday’s attack.

Police have distributed a photo of Chekatt, who was wounded in an exchange of fire with security forces, with the warning: “Individual dangerous, above all do not intervene.”

The government raised the terror alert level nationwide and deployed 1,800 additional soldiers across France to help patrol streets and secure crowded events ahead of the Christmas holiday.

This undated handout photo provided by French police shows Cherif Chekatt, the suspect in the shooting in Strasbourg, France, on December 11, 2018. (French Police via AP)

Griveaux also called on the “yellow vest” protesters not to take to the streets, as some members of the movement have planned a fifth round of demonstrations on Saturday across France to demand tax relief.

Strasbourg was in mourning, with candles lit and flowers left at the site of the attack. The Christmas market was closed at least through Thursday, authorities said.

On Wednesday evening, people prayed and sang in the nearby Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Church.

Pastor Philippe Eber said it was a moment “to think of those who died in this city because of violence. We also are thinking about all of those who weep for them, the families.”

Strasbourg resident Tassia Konstantinidis said “it’s important to have a period of mourning and to remember the victims.”

French police officers patrol in Strasbourg, France, on December 13, 2018, following a deadly terror attack in the city two days earlier. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The dead included a Thai tourist, 45-year-old Anupong Suebsamarn, according to the Thai Foreign Ministry.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said one Italian was among the wounded, and was in critical condition. The Europhonica radio consortium said Antonio Megalizzi, 28, was in Strasbourg to follow the session of the European Parliament.

French authorities said that the suspect, born in Strasbourg, had run-ins with police starting at age 10 and his first conviction was at age 13.

Chekatt has been convicted 27 times, mostly in France but also in Switzerland and Germany, for crimes including armed robbery. He had been flagged for extremism and was on a watch list.

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