A gunman opened fire outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France today, killing at least four people, three of them children. The scene at the school was described by witnesses as horrific.
Toulouse is also the city where two French Muslim paratroopers were killed by a gunman last week, and there are rumors that police think the same gun was used in each incident.
Below is a news report about the massacre from French television. Many thanks to Bear for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:
Here’s an article about the incident from The Telegraph:
France: Four Dead as Gunman on a Motorbike Opens Fire at Jewish School in France
A man on a motorbike has opened fire outside a Jewish school in France, killing a father and his two sons and at least one other child, a Toulouse prosecutor has said.
Prosecutor Michel Valet said the teacher, aged 30, was shot dead along with his sons aged just three and six. He said another child aged between eight and 10 years old was also killed, while a 17-year-old was seriously injured. Mr Valet described a chilling scene in which the gunman “shot at everything”. One parent described the incident as “a vision of horror”. The shooting comes just days after two other incidents in which soldiers were gunned down by a man on a motorbike in the same region. Police stated there a similar calbre of gun was used in all three shootings, AFP reported, while Interior Minister Claude Gueant said on Monday there are “similarities” between the attacks. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who called Monday’s shooting “abominable” and “frightening”, quickly cautioned that it was too early to draw links between the attacks. “There are some similarities but it’s much too early to say if there is a real link or not. Only the police and the judiciary will tell us what conclusions to draw,” Mr Sarkozy told French radio.
Monday’s attack occurred as students were arriving for morning classes at the Ozar Hatorah school. The gunman opened fire at the spot were parents were dropping their children off. The city is now said to be in lockdown as police hunt the gunman. Some two hours after the attack, the children were still in the school. It was not clear if their parents were with them. Mr Gueant has ordered security to be tightened around all French Jewish schools after the attack. Mr Sarkozy said he is travelling immediately to the school, along with his education minister and the head of the CRIF, the umbrella representative group of Jewish organisations in France. François Hollande, Mr Sarkozy’s presidential rival, has also said he is on his way to the school. Mr Sarkozy called the shootings an “abominable drama and a “frightening tragedy”. Patrick Rouimi, the father of a child at the school, told AFP that a man opened fire on a group of people standing at a spot where children were picked up for the school. “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,” a distraught father whose child attends the school told RTL radio. “I did not find my son, apparently he fled when he saw what happened. How can they attack something as sacred as a school, attack children only sixty centimetres tall?”
The shooting occurred at about 8.10am, just ahead of the start of classes in most French schools. The gunman initially used a 9-mm weapon but it jammed, so he switched to a .45-calibre weapon as he went into the Toulouse school, police said. The gunman, wearing a helmet, fled the scene on a black scooter, witnesses told BFM. A correspondent for the news channel said people in the area were in “immense shock”. Freelance journliast Christopher Bockman told the BBC that Toulouse was in lockdown as police hunted the gunman. The Israeli foreign ministry has stated it is “horrified” at the news of the attack. “We are horrified by this attack and we trust the French authorities to shed full light on this tragedy and bring the perpetrators of these murders to justice,” Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP. France’s Grand Rabbi Gilles Bernheim has also expressed shock at the attack. “I am horrifed by what happened this morning in Toulouse in front of the Jewish school,” he told AFP, adding that he would leave immediately for the southwestern French city.
France has Europe’s largest Jewish community, estimated at up to 700,000 people. The head of the Jewish students union of France (UEJF), Jonathan Hayoun, called on the authorities “to reinforce security at Jewish schools and synagogues.” He also said in a statement that “anti-Semitic and racist speech has created a climate of insecurity for Jews in France”. Police in the area launched a major manhunt last week after the killing of three paratroopers and the wounding of another in two separate, but connected incidents. The perpetrator of both attacks fled on a motorbike. “One can’t fail to notice the similarities between the attacks on our troops in Toulouse and in Montauban and then this horrible attack on children this morning,” Mr Gueant said on Monday.
However a police official warned Monday that it was too early to draw solid links between the attacks “We’re in a heated atmosphere. It’s premature for this or that hypothesis to try to establish a direct link,” Didier Martinez, regional secretary of the SGP Police union, said on BFM-TV. Witnesses described how the killer had time to turn over one of the wounded men who was trying to crawl away and fire three more shots into him before getting back on his scooter and making his escape. Between 50 and 60 police officers, including anti-terrorist specialists, have been drafted in to the investigation. Senior military officials have ordered troops based in the region not to wear their uniforms outside barracks. Mr Bockman told the BBC that the soldiers who were targeted were of ethnic origin. He said it appeared the gunman was deliberately targeting ethnic minorities in the area.
Hat tip for the article: JP.