A gunman killed at least two people and seriously injured another 11 near the famed Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg on Tuesday before fleeing the scene, security officials said.
Police launched a manhunt after the killer opened fire at around 7pm local time (1800 GMT), sending crowds of evening shoppers fleeing for safety.
Soldiers patrolling the area as part of regular anti-terror operations exchanged fire with the gunman and injured him, but could not stop him escaping the scene, police sources said.
Police said officers later exchanged gunfire with the suspect as he fled.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the shooter had been identified and had a criminal background.
Security forces sealed off the historic centre of the city, which is the capital of the Alsace region and lies on the border of Germany.
“We heard several shots, three perhaps, and we saw people running,” one witness told AFP afterwards, asking not to be named.
“One of them fell down, I don’t know whether it was because she was tripped up or if she was hit,” the witness said.
The Strasbourg-based European Parliament was on lockdown after reports of the shooting emerged, with MEPs, staff and journalists unable to leave the building, an AFP reporter said.
The parliament is currently in plenary session, with hundreds of MEPs and officials having made the monthly visit to Strasbourg from Brussels.