DUP MEP Diane Dodds has been locked in a restaurant in Strasbourg by police officers who burst in after a gunman opened fire just a few minutes away.
She spoke directly to the News Letter this evening from the restaurant, saying that at roughly 7.30pm or so plainclothes officers ran in, shouted ‘police’, and shut them inside.
She said the shooting was probably about five minutes’ walking distance away.
It is understood at least two people are dead as a result of the shooting at the city’s Christmas market.
She said that she is personally safe, and that her thoughts are with those killed and wounded, saying that for the “Christmas will never be the same again”.
Meanwhile Martina Anderson said she heard the shots, and Jim Nicholson said that the European Parliament has been put into “lockdown”.
Mrs Dodds said she left the European Parliament at about six, and decided to visit the city’s Christmas market.
“We had a dander round the market and just decided to come into a nearby restaurant, when police raced into the restaurant, turned out the lights, pulled the curtains, everybody was told stay in, we’re locked in.
“We were told there’s an incident literally five minutes from where we are.
“The police cordon is all around. We haven’t been able to leave yet.
“All we knew was these guys just came in the restaurant and the lights were turned out. We didn’t even know what was happening.
“We were then kept in the dark with the police at the back of the restaurant while the door’s locked.
“But we’re safe.
“People travel from all over to come to the Christmas market in Strasbourg and it’s shocking and terrible that has happened.”
Mrs Dodds said other MEPs were also in the restaurant.
At the time she spoke to the News Letter it was shortly before 10pm.
She had entered the restaurant at about 7.30pm or so.
The Christmas market itself closes at 8pm, she said.
She said that there has been a heavy security presence around the market in the last couple of years since an attack at Berlin’s Christmas market in 2016, with people’s bags being searched as they enter Strasbourg city centre, and the streets pedestrianised and anti-traffic bollards in place.
She said people may be able to leave her restaurant now, but that she was staying put for the time being.
At time of writing, PA was reporting that two people were dead, and seven people were in a “serious” condition.
The gunman, a suspected extremist, was on the run and the security forces are said to be treating the incident as a terror attack.