Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

French city honours victims of Christmas market attack

Fifth Strasbourg attack victim dies

People filled a square in the French city of Strasbourg on Sunday to show respect and sympathy for the victims of last week's shooting attack near a famous Christmas market as the death toll rose to five.

French authorities said a Polish man died in a Strasbourg hospital Sunday, one of a dozen people wounded in last Tuesday's attack, making him the fifth fatality. Poland's Foreign Ministry extended condolences Sunday on Twitter to his family.

According to the 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."

The hour-long ceremony took place in Kleber Square, not far from where a gunman opened fire on Tuesday evening. Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries praised the city's resilience in the face of hardship.

The "extremely large crowd in the Christmas market" on Saturday "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," Mr Ries said.

An extensive manhunt for the gunman ended on Thursday night when the main suspect, Strasbourg-born Cherif Chekatt, 29, was killed in a shootout with police in the city neighbourhood where he grew up.

The attack remains under investigation. The Paris prosecutor's office said two people who were close Chekatt were released from custody Sunday "in the absence of incriminating elements at this stage."

Only one of the seven people authorities detained while searching for Chekatt was still being held.

Chekatt's parents and two of his brothers, who were held for questioning for several days, were released Saturday.

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The attack victims came from multiple countries: One of the dead was a tourist from Thailand. Another was an Italian journalist covering the European Parliament based in Strasbourg. The latest to die from his injuries was a Pole named Barto Orent-Niedzielski, according to the Strasbourg regional administration, or prefecture.

Polish news agency PAP identified him as a 36-year-old originally from Katowice, Poland. His brother Jakub had been posting updates on his condition on Facebook since the attack, and suggested Saturday that the family was considering when to end Orent-Niedzielski's life support.

Then Sunday, Jakub shared the following note: "My brother Bartek Orent-Niedzielski has just left us. He thanks you for your love and the strength you brought him. He will always be there, watching over us, and will continue to bring us his joy. Thanks to everyone."

In response, online condolences poured in.

Updated: December 17, 2018 08:56 AM

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