Handgun ties French school shooting to attacks on soldiers | News | DW | 19.03.2012
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Handgun ties French school shooting to attacks on soldiers

A shooting near a Jewish school in Toulouse has left four people dead, with three children among the victims. Police say the same gun was used in two deadly shootings last week.

Four people were killed in a shooting outside a Jewish school in southern France on Monday, three of the victims children, with authorities saying the gun used in the attack was the same used in two other recent shootings in the region.

A 30-year-old religious education teacher and three children aged three, six and 10 were shot dead as they arrived for class at Toulouse's Ozar Hatorah school. The shooter reportedly arrived on a motorcycle and had two pistols.

"He shot at everything he could see, children and adults, and some children were chased into the school," said local prosecutor Michel Valet, adding that one other person was seriously injured in the attack.

The shooter fled the scene on his motorbike, in an incident reminiscent of shootings last week. Police sources later said the murder weapon was the same .45-caliber handgun used in two attacks last week.

Two paratroopers were killed and one seriously wounded when standing at a cash machine in Montauban 50 kilometers (32 miles) from Toulouse on Thursday, while one French soldier was shot dead in a separate attack in Toulouse four days earlier.

Both of those shootings were conducted by an unidentified assailant on a motorcycle wearing a crash helmet. No motive or suspect was immediately apparent in either attack.

Sarkozy declares 'national tragedy'

French President Nicolas Sarkozy cleared his schedule on Monday and traveled to Toulouse, telling parents and school authorities that it was a "day of national tragedy."

"We should not back down in the face of terror," he said. "Barbarism, savagery, hate must not win. The Republic is much stronger than that."

He added that whoever perpetrated the shooting would be held accountable, and that he and "all of France" stood on the side of the Jewish community.

Meanwhile an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said his country was "horrified" by the attacks at the Jewish school.

"We trust the French authorities to shed full light on this tragedy and bring the perpetrators of these murders to justice," Yigal Palmor told AFP.

The country's interior minister, Claude Gueant, said security measures would be increased at all Jewish and Muslim schools in the region.

acb, mz/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa)