Four shot dead at French Jewish school (REUTERS) By Guillaume Serries TOULOUSE, France 03/19/12 10:30am EDT)
Reuters News Service
Reuters News Service Articles-Index-Top
(Reuters) - A gunman on a motorbike shot dead at least four people,
including three children, at a Jewish school in Toulouse on Monday,
just days after three soldiers were killed in similar shootings in
the same area of southwest France.
"I saw two people dead in front of the school, an adult and a
child ... Inside, it was a vision of horror, the bodies of two small
children," one father, searching for his son at the Ozar Hatorah
school among crowds of distraught parents and children, told RTL
The gunman killed a 30-year old Hebrew teacher, his two children aged
three and six, and another child, Toulouse prosecutor Michel Valet
said. A 17-year-old was wounded.
"The attacker was shooting people outside the school, then pursued
children into the school, before fleeing on a heavy motorbike," Valet
The soldiers, one of Caribbean and two of Muslim origin, also been
killed in drive-by shootings and prosecutors opened an anti-terrorism
investigation into all three attacks although it was not clear
whether the motive was political or purely racist.
President Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, the Socialist
opposing him in his uphill bid for re-election in May, both rushed to
Sarkozy said he was struck by the similarities between the three
"We don´t know who this killer is and what is the exact link is to
the drama that has hit the military community," Sarkozy said after
arriving in Toulouse. "Everything must be done so that the killer is
stopped and has to pay for his crimes."
"Our schools must keep functioning, our compatriots that want to
worship at synagogues, mosques and churches must be able to continue
to do so. We should not give ground to terror."
The prosecutor confirmed that the same calibre firearm was used in
Monday´s attack as in the killing of the three soldiers in two
separate attacks by a man who escaped on a scooter. He could not say
if it was exactly the same weapon.
Police cordoned off the school and a spokesman for the interior
ministry said security was being tightened at all other Jewish
schools in the country. France´s 600,000-strong Jewish community is
There was mayhem around the small school in a leafy upscale
neighborhood of Toulouse, a booming industrial town. "All the
children at this school were my children," one tearful mother told
The father looking for his son expressed disbelief: "How can they
attack something as sacred as a school, attack children only 60
centimeters (two feet) tall?" he told RTL radio.
As messages of condolence poured in from across Europe,
representatives of France´s Jewish community voiced their solidarity.
"The whole Jewish community is in mourning," said Rabbi Moshe Lewin,
a spokesman for France´s great rabbi. "In the face of such a drama,
such a horror, one cannot but go there."
Public prosecutor Valet said investigators were studying video
evidence from the school shooting and the attack on Thursday in the
nearby town of Montauban that killed two soldiers and left a third
The three men, aged between 24 and 28, were shot while in uniform as
they tried to withdraw money from a cash machine close to the
barracks of the 17th parachute regiment.
A third soldier, aged 30, was killed the previous weekend in
Toulouse. Investigators said the same weapon had been used in both
The shootings could thrust security back to the top of the agenda in
a bitter electoral campaign that has been dominated by issues of
taxation and immigration.
Political analyst Stefane Rozes, head of CAP political consultancy,
said the shooting was unlikely to have a decisive impact on France´s
election campaign as all candidates were strongly condemning the
(Reporting by Guillaume Serries in Toulouse, Leigh Thomas, Thierry
Leveque, Nicolas Bertin, and Chine Labbe in Paris, Jeffrey Heller and
Maayan Lubel in Jerusalem; writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Geert
De Clercq and Philippa Fletcher) (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 03/19/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY