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Death toll now up to four

UPDATE: 4:20 p.m.

A shooting in the French city of Strasbourg killed four people and wounded 11 others near a world-famous Christmas market Tuesday, sparking a broad lockdown and a search for the suspected gunman, who remained at large.

French prosecutors said a terrorism investigation was opened, though authorities did not announce a motive for the bloodshed. The city is home to the European Parliament, which was locked down after the shooting.

It was unclear if the market — which was the nucleus of an al-Qaida-linked plot in 2000 — was targeted. The prefect of the Strasbourg region said the suspect was previously flagged as a possible extremist.

The gunman has been identified and has a criminal record, according to Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.

The death toll, first reported as one, rose to four by late Tuesday, according to two police union officials. One official, Stephane Morisse of union FGP, told The Associated Press the alleged shooter was wounded by soldiers guarding the market.

Gendarmes went to the suspect's home to arrest him earlier Tuesday, before the attack, but he wasn't there, Morisse said. They found explosive materials, he said.

French military spokesman Col. Patrik Steiger said the shooter did not aim for the soldiers patrolling in and around the Christmas market, but targeted civilians instead.

Several of the people wounded were in critical condition, the interior minister said.


UPDATE: 1:38 p.m.

A shooting in the French city of Strasbourg killed two people and wounded up to eight others, officials said, sparking a major security operation around a world-famous Christmas market on Tuesday. Authorities said the shooter remains at large.

The motive for the shooting is unclear. It wasn't immediately clear if the market was the target of the attack or if there was any link to terrorism.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters that the gunman has been identified, and had a police record for common crimes. He several of the wounded were in critical condition and that he was heading to Strasbourg.

The French Interior Ministry called on the public to remain indoors.

"Our security and rescue services are mobilized," Castaner said.

Local authorities tweeted for the public to "avoid the area of the police station," which is close to the city's Christmas market. Strasbourg's well-known market is set up around the city's cathedral during the Christmas period and becomes a major gathering place.

Images from the scene show police officers, police vehicles and barricades surrounding the sparkling lights of the market.

The European Parliament, which is based in Strasbourg, was on lockdown. Spokesman Jaume Duch said that "the European Parliament has been closed and no one can leave until further notice." It wasn't immediately clear how many people were inside.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that "my thoughts are with the victims of the shooting .... Strasbourg is like no other a city which is a symbol of peace and European democracy."

Some Strasbourg residents have reported on social media that they heard gunfire in some parts of the city centre.


ORIGINAL: noon

French media have reported a shooting in Strasbourg, and the Interior Ministry has called on the public to remain indoors amid a "serious security event" in the city centre.

Local authorities in the Grand-Est and Bas-Rhin region tweeted for the public to "avoid the area of the police station," which is close to the city's Christmas market.

French news broadcaster BFM TV said there were "several people injured," citing local police.

Some Strasbourg residents have reported hearing gunfire in some parts of the city centre.



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