A man who had been flagged as a possible extremist sprayed gunfire near the city of Strasbourg’s famous Christmas market Tuesday, killing three people, wounding 12 and sparking a massive manhunt. France immediately raised its terror alert level.

It was unclear if the market – a popular gathering place that was the nucleus of an al-Qaida-linked plot in 2000 – was the intended target. The assailant got inside a security zone around the venue and opened fire from there, Mayor Roland Ries said on BFM television.

Authorities did not give a motive for the shooting, though prosecutors said they had opened a terrorism investigation. Strasbourg is home to the European Parliament, one of several places that was locked down after the shooting.