A POLICE hunt was continuing last night for the shooter who opened fire near a French Christmas market on Tuesday.

Witnesses described shots and screams after the gunman began shooting in Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament.

A man named Cherif Chekatt has been identified as the main suspect by local media after two people were killed and another 13 injured.

One victim was left with a severe brain injury after the 8pm incident in Strasbourg and Thai tourist Anupong Suebsamarn, 45, was named as one of those killed.

He had reportedly planned to go to Paris with his wife, but chose the eastern city instead as a result of the “gilet jaune” protests taking place in the French capital.

A massive manhunt is under way.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner said 720 officers are searching for the gunman and the French government has increased its security alert system Vigipirate to its highest level.

However, due to the city’s promixity to the German border, it is feared that he may have left the country.

Castaner said: “The government has decided to move the security level to ‘emergency attack’ with stricter controls at the borders, and the implementation of reinforced controls on all the Christmas markets that are taking place in France to avoid the risk of copycat attacks.”

Prosecutor Remy Heitz said Chekatt – whose criminal record includes armed robbery and covers 27 offences committed in Germany and Switzerland – was known to authorities as someone who had been radicalised in prison.

It is understood that he has been on a watch-list since 2015 as a result and witnesses claim he shouted “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is Great”, during the incident.

Heitz said 29-year-old was armed with a gun and a knife and left the scene in a taxi, telling the driver he had killed10 people.

The attacker was shot in the arm during the incident in an exchange of fire with soldiers.

Four people connected to Chekatt were detained overnight, with reports suggesting that this includes his parents and two brothers.

An arsenal of weapons including a rifle, grenade and four knives were found in a search of his home in the outskirts of the city earlier on Tuesday, Heitz said, adding that this was carried out in connection with a separate criminal investigation and that other members of his family are known to hold radical views.

Italian journalist Antonio Megalizzi, who was in the city to cover a European Parliament session for the Europhonica radio consortium linked to universities, was among those injured in the attack. He was shot in the head and left critically injured.

The attack is a new blow to France, which experienced a wave of Islamic extremist killings in 2015 and 2016.

While authorities urged people in the area to stay inside after Tuesday’s attack, Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries told BFM television yesterday that “life must go on” so that the city does not cede to a “terrorist who is trying to disrupt our way of life”.

And in the European Parliament yesterday, politicians from across the continent stood firm.

German MEP Jo Leinen shared an image on social media of people marking Christmas with lights and songs within the building “despite the terror in the city centre”.