BERLIN: The suspect in the deadly shooting attack at a Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg was jailed for burglary in Germany but was not deemed a potentially dangerous Islamist, German authorities said Wednesday.
“For us, he was a blank slate,” said a spokeswoman of the Federal Criminal Police Office, which takes charge of cases related to terrorism.
An interior ministry spokeswoman also said that there have been no indications suggesting an Islamist link to the suspect.
The 29-year-old suspect was sentenced to two years and three months for burglaries in the city of Mainz and in Baden-Wuerttemberg state, and jailed in 2016.
“He served a year in Germany before being expelled to France,” a spokesman from Baden-Wuerttemberg’s interior ministry told AFP.
According to the Tagesspiegel newspaper, the man broke into a dentist practice in Mainz, Rhineland Palatinate state, in 2012, making away with cash, stamps and gold used for teeth fillings.
Four years later, he hit a pharmacy in the Lake Constance town of Engen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, pocketing cash.
German authorities were on the lookout for the fugitive “along the Rhine” river region, the ministry spokesman said.
“But at the moment we do not believe that he has crossed into the country,” he added.
The gunman opened fire Tuesday evening at the famed Strasbourg Christmas market, which draws thousands of visitors every year.
The shooting left three people dead and 13 wounded.
French authorities said the attacker had been on their list of extremists and “is actively being hunted by security forces”.
Meanwhile, German police said they had detained three people in a taxi with French licence plates, after tipoffs given by the public following the Strasbourg attack.
The vehicle was halted on the A1 motorway close to the city Bremen, a police spokesman in Delmenhorst told national news agency DPA.
One of the passengers was masked, according to the report.
There was so far no indications that they were linked to the Christmas market attack, but police were checking the taxi for any suspicious traces and interrogating the three people.