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Strasbourg remembers victims

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Protesters still block French traffic circles

Residents react during a gathering being held in a central square of the eastern French city of Strasbourg on Dec 16, to pay homage to the victims of a gunman who killed four people and wounded a dozen more. The gathering was held in Kleber Square by a Christmas market and near where the gunman opened fire last Tuesday evening. (AP)

PARIS, Dec 16, (AP): Residents of the eastern French city of Strasbourg filled a city square Sunday for a memorial to the four people shot dead and the dozen wounded by a gunman at their famous Christmas market. The hour-long ceremony took place in Kleber Square by the city’s Christmas market, near where the gunman opened fire on Tuesday evening.

According to the local newspaper DNA, more than 1,000 people attended the memorial, which ended with a minute of applause and a rendition of France’s national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries praised the city’s resilience in the face of hardship. “The presence on Saturday of an extremely large crowd in the Christmas market was an illustration of our commitment to these values on which our living together is based, which we will continue to defend against all those who want to attack it,” Ries said.

After the attack, French authorities launched a massive manhunt that ended Thursday night when the main suspect, Strasbourg-born Cherif Chekatt, 29, was killed in a shootout with police in the city neighborhood where he grew up. French authorities are still investigating the Strasbourg Christmas market attack.

Chekatt’s parents and two of his brothers, who had been held by police for questioning for several days, were released on Saturday. The man described as the father of the 29-year-old suspect in this week’s deadly Christmas market attack in Strasbourg says his son subscribed to the beliefs of the Islamic State group. The interview with Abdelkrim Chekatt by the state-run France 2 television channel was shown Saturday night, two days after the son was killed in a confrontation with three police officers in his childhood neighborhood in Strasbourg following a massive manhunt. Four people died in the Tuesday night attack.

A dozen others were wounded. The Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament, is the largest in France. It reopened on Friday after being closed during the search for the suspect. Chekatt said he had seen his son, Cherif Chekatt, three days before the attack but couldn’t contact him while he was on the run. He acknowledged that his son backed the IS group. “He’d say, for example, that DAESH, fights for the just cause and all that,” the red-bearded father said, using the common term in France and elsewhere for the Islamic State group. The interview, initially outdoors with the father, continued briefl y inside with Cheriff Chekatt’s mother, Rouadja Rouag, who expressed shock and sorrow for the deaths. France 2 said the couple had been divorced for a long time.

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