A gunman killed at least three people and injured 12 others at a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg on Tuesday before fleeing, AFP reported. Soldiers patrolling the area as part of anti-terror operations wounded the suspect in an exchange of fire, but the assailant managed to escape.

The incident took place at around 8 pm local time (12.30 am Indian time) after the gunman opened fire at a crowd of shoppers. Six of the injured are in critical condition, while the others suffered minor injuries, BBC reported.

President Emmanuel Macron held a crisis meeting with Cabinet officials in Paris after midnight. In a tweet, he said that the “solidarity of the entire nation” was with Strasbourg, the victims and their families.

Castaner said the security alert level had been raised to “emergency attack” with “the implementation of reinforced border controls and tightened controls on all Christmas markets in France to avoid the risk of a copycat attacks”.

A statement from local security services said the attacker has been identified and was on a watchlist of suspected terrorists. He is on the run and the police have launched a manhunt to nab him. “He fought twice with our security forces,” said Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.

According to local reports, the assailant managed to escape from his flat in Neudorf district on Tuesday morning after police searched it in connection with a robbery. The police also found grenades during the search.

Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries tweeted that the Christmas market would be closed on Wednesday. Flags would be lowered to half-mast at the local town hall, where people could pay their respects in a book of condolences, he said.