Strasbourg attack: fourth victim dies as Christmas market re-opens after gunman killed in police raid
July 14, 2020
A fourth victim of the Strasbourg Christmas market attack died from his wounds yesterday as investigators searched for possible accomplices of the gunman slain after two days of terror.
The prime suspect, Cherif Chekatt, 29, was killed on Thursday after he opened fire on three officers who crossed his path by chance while on patrol. Authorities had received two tip-offs about his general whereabouts.
The fourth victim of the knife and gun attack in central Strasbourg, eastern France, was 28-year old Italian radio journalist Antonio Megalizzi. He had been shot in the head and had been in a coma.
Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister, said the whole country was united by “sadness and pain”.
Yesterday, Christophe Castaner, France’s interior minister, attended the reopening of Strasbourg’s Christmas market, which welcomes two million people every year and had been shut since Tuesday night’s attack.
To reopen swiftly, he said, was vital "for the honour of Strasbourg, for the honour of France”. President Emmanuel Macron was due to attend later in the evening.
Islamic State claimed Chekatt as one of its “soldiers” but Mr Castaner dismissed the claim as “totally opportunistic".
Chekatt had 27 previous convictions for theft and violence and his Islamic beliefs were radicalised during previous periods in prison.
Police were still holding seven people yesterday for questing, including his parents, in a bid to establish whether he was helped by accomplices while on the run. “We want to reconstruct the past 48 hours in order to find out whether he got some support," said Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz.
Relief in Strasbourg came as France braces for a fifth straight Saturday of violent protests linked to the “yellow vest” movement against high taxes and low purchasing power.
Mr Castaner urged protesters not to test exhausted security forces with the type of riots seen in Paris and Bordeaux over the last two weekends. "I can’t stand the idea that today people applaud police forces and that tomorrow some people will think it makes sense to throw stones at us," he said after meeting officers.
With the movement apparently losing steam after concessions by Emmanuel Macron, the French president said France needed “calm, order and to return to a normal way of working".
Michel Delpuech, Paris’ police chief, said some 8,000 officers and 14 armoured vehicles would be deployed in Paris as last week with the focus on preventing vandals from wreaking fresh destruction.
In an act of defiance, attractions such as the Louvre museum and Opera Garnier will be open this weekend, unlike last Saturday.
The protests have hit the economy, with output in the last quarter of the year set to be half initial projections, while Macron’s concessions are likely to push the budget deficit above an EU agreed limit.