Deadly shooting at Jewish school in France

At least four people have been killed, including a teacher and his two young sons, after a man on a scooter opened fire outside a Jewish school in the south-western French city of Toulouse.
A gunman opened fire Monday morning outside a Jewish school in Toulouse in south-western France, killing at least four people.

City Prosecutor Michel Valet said a 30-year-old man, his two sons, aged three and six, and another child aged ten, were killed. A 17-year-old was also seriously injured.

Valet told reporters the gunman "shot at everything he could see, children and adults, and some children were chased into the school" before he

Relatives named the adult killed as Jonathan Sandler, a Franco-Israeli from Jerusalem, AFP reported, adding that he had "left last September for a two-year mission to teach Jewish subjects in Toulouse".

Visiting the school, French President Nicolas Sarkozy described the shooting as a "national tragedy" and vowed to find the killer.

He also announced a minute of silence in all French schools for Tuesday and said the state would throw its entire weight behind the investigation.

Link to killings of French soldiers

FRANCE 24 correspondent Chris Bockman said the city was in “lockdown” as police searched for the gunman.

"But this is a medieval city with narrow winding roads, where it is easy for a scooter to outrun a police car,” he added.

The attack at the Ozar Hatorah school follows a similar shooting last Thursday in nearby Montauban, where two soldiers were killed by a helmeted gunman riding a scooter.

The soldiers, of the 17th Parachute Engineering Regiment recently returned from operations in Afghanistan, were killed outside their barracks.

Four days before, a soldier from another airborne regiment was killed in Toulouse.

“All the soldiers who were killed were from ethnic minorities,” said Bockman. “So this is looking like a series of racist killings.”

Same calibre cartridges

According to French daily Le Figaro, spent cartridges found at the scene on Monday were of the same .45 calibre as cartridges used in the Montauban shootings last week. The paper also reported that police sources believed it was the same killer.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, however, warned that it was "too early" to link last week's shootings of soldiers with Monday's incident.

But he added: "We are struck by the similarities between the modus operandi of today's drama and those last week even if we have to wait to have more elements from the police to confirm this hypothesis."

The French government on Monday called for heightened security at Jewish schools in France, while French soldiers have been banned from wearing uniform outside their bases.

Meanwhile, according to French daily Le Monde, anti-terrorist prosecutors have taken over investigations into both the school and soldiers' shootings.

'A despicable murder of Jews'

Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande, who will be running against Sarkozy in the forthcoming presidential election, was also in Toulouse to show "solidarity" with the French Jewish community.

France's Grand Rabbi stated that he was "horrified" and "stunned" by the attack and was travelling to Toulouse.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the attack as "a despicable murder of Jews, including small children."

"It is too early to determine exactly what the background to the murderous act was, but we certainly cannot rule out the option that it was motivated by violent and murderous anti-Semitism," he said.


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