France mourns school shooting victims | News | DW | 20.03.2012
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France mourns school shooting victims

Schools across France have observed a moment of silence in honor of the four people killed at a Jewish school. As the hunt for the killer got underway, officials said the gunman may have filmed his deeds.

All French schools took part in the moment of silence to pay homage to the three pupils and one teacher shot by a lone gunman at the Toulouse Jewish school a day earlier.

President Nicolas Sarkozy observed the moment of silence at a junior high school in Paris, where he told pupils the victims "are exactly like you." The attack "could have happened here," he said.

Police officers stand guard at the entrance of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school where a gunman opened fire killing four people

Police are out in force in the Toulouse region

His Socialist rival, Francois Hollande, paid his respect to the victims at a school in the Parisian suburbs.

The bodies of the four, seven-year-old Myriam Monsonego, Jonathan Sandler and his four- and five-year-old sons, Gabriel and Arieh, were due to be flown to Israel in the evening. The children all possessed dual French-Israeli citizenship.

High alert

A huge manhunt began on Monday in the Toulouse area after the four were killed outside the Ozar Hazarah school.

Sarkozy raised the terror alert level in the region to scarlet, the highest possible level, implying an imminent attack. Security was also increased at schools, synagogues and mosques around the country, he said. Hundreds of police and 14riot police units were operating in the region.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said on Tuesday that video surveillance footage showed the man had a camera attached to his neck and may have been filming his shooting spree.

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France mourns school shooting victims

"This adds another element to the profile of the killer. It is someone who is cruel enough to record it," Gueant told reporters at a school in Toulouse. "This shows a profile of the murderer as someone who is very cold, very determined, with precise gestures, and therefore very cruel."

The investigations into the crimes as well as into two earlier killings of soldiers appeared to be moving slowly. Police have linked the gun used in the three separate incidents and the licence plate of a scooter used in Monday's attack and seen speeding away from an attack in the nearby town of Montauban. All of the victims belonged to minorities.

The gunman is believed to have shot and killed two paratroopers in Montauban, 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Toulouse, on Thursday and a first victim, also a paratrooper, on March 11 in Toulouse. The three men were of North African or West Indian origin.

ncy/mz (AFP, dapd)

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