French police 181216
French police officers block the road near the site where Cherif Chekatt, the alleged gunman who had been on the run since allegedly killing three people at Strasbourg's popular Christmas market, has been shot dead by police on December 13, 2018 in the Neudorf neighbourhood of Strasbourg. Image Credit: AFP

Paris: Four family members of the gunman who went on a deadly shooting spree at a popular Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg were released from custody on Saturday, the Paris prosecutor's office said.

Three more people close to the attacker Cherif Chekatt, who was shot dead by police on Thursday, were still being held, it said.

But his parents and two of his brothers were freed "due to the lack of incriminating evidence at this stage", the prosecutor's office added.

More than 700 French security forces had been hunting for 29-year-old Chekatt since Tuesday night's bloodshed, in which four people died - the latest in a string of extremist attacks to rock France.

France's interior minister on Friday dismissed a claim by Daesh that it was responsible for the attack.


French security forces had been hunting for 29-year-old Chekatt since Tuesday; he was killed on Thursday

Police have been focusing their investigation on whether Chekatt had any help in carrying out his attack or while on the run.

In an interview broadcast on Saturday evening, a man identified as Cherif Chekatt's father said his son had become a follower of Daesh.

"He would say Daesh is fighting for a just cause," the man, named as Abdelkrim Chekatt, told France 2 television.

"I told him: 'Forget about Daesh, don't listen to what they say. Don't you see the atrocities they commit?'"

He added that he had had no knowledge of the attack.

"If he had told me about his plans, I would have reported him to the police, that way he would have not killed anyone or been killed himself," the man said.