Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that a Thai national was among the three fatalities confirmed thus far in the aftermath of a shooting at a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg today.
The victim has been identified as Anupong Suebsamarn, 45, who was traveling with his wife, Naiyana, to whom the Thai Embassy in Paris is now providing assistance, Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Bussadee Santipitak told PPTV.
Namthip Fichot, president of the local Thai association in Provence, said that she had been informed that the couple had arrived only the day before the tragedy, according to Thairath.
At 2am Bangkok time (8pm local time), a lone gunman opened fire on shoppers at a Christmas Market in the city bordering Germany, killing three and wounding 12 others.
Soldiers patrolling the area exchanged fire with the assailant, wounding him, but were unable to prevent him from escaping.
In the shooting’s aftermath, France has raised its security alert level to “emergency terror attack” with “the implementation of reinforced border controls and tightened controls on all Christmas markets in the country to avoid the risk of a copycat” attack.
“I heard shooting and then there was pandemonium,” one witness, who gave his name as Fatih, told AFP. “People were running everywhere.”
He said he had seen three people injured on the ground only a few meters from the giant Christmas tree in the center of the city.
Shortly after the shooting, lines of police vehicles and ambulances streamed into the market area, under festive lights declaring the city the “capital of Christmas.”
“We heard several shots, three perhaps, and we saw people running,” one witness said, asking not to be named.
“One of them fell down. I don’t know whether it was because she was tripped up or if she was hit,” the witness said.
President Emmanuel Macron held a crisis meeting with cabinet officials in Paris a few hours after the shooting.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that about 350 officers and two helicopters have been deployed in the manhunt for the gunman, who had previously been flagged by local authorities as a suspected extremist, according to ABC News.
Two separate security sources, who requested anonymity, said that the shooter was believed to be a 29-year-old local man, identified only as Cherif.
He was already being investigated for attempted murder and was set to be arrested on Tuesday morning.
The Christmas market in Strasbourg and the city’s illuminations are an attraction that draws hundreds of thousands of people each year.
Additional reporting by AFP