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Rabbi and three children killed in Toulouse Jewish school shooting

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A rabbi who taught Hebrew and three children have been killed in a shooting outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, south-west France, reports said Monday morning. The attack follows the killing of three soldiers in two similar shootings last week.

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A man on a scooter opened fire as pupils arrived at the Ozar Hatorah school in the Roseraie district of Toulouse on Monday morning, killing a rabbi and his two children, according to Le Monde newspaper. One other child is reported to have died.

Five other people are reported to have been wounded, two of them seriously. One of the latter is the daughter of the headteacher, according to the parent of a pupil at the school.

The attacker opened fire with an automatic pistol that jammed and then used another.

Some of the bullets at the site are of the same calibre as those found at the scenes of last week’s shootings of soldiers in Toulouse on Sunday 11 March and in nearby Montauban on Thursday.

As in those two attacks, the man arrived on a motorcycle and his face was concealed by a motorcyclist’s helmet but police say it is too early to say whether the crimes are connected.

A witness of the Montauban killing has said that he had either a tattoo or scar on his face.

The public prosecutor has refused to comment on claims that all the soldiers shot of north African or West Indian origin.

  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is campaigning for reelection, declared a day of national mourning when he visited the scene Monday and described the shooting as a national tragedy.
  • Interior Minister Claude Guéant is to stay in the city as the investigation continues.
  • The Interior Ministry has ordered local officials throughout France, “particularly in the south-west”, to reinforce security around Jewish educational institutions.
  • Socialist party presidential candidate François Hollande to travel to Toulouse;
  • France’s Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim declared himself “horrified” by the attack and said he would go to Toulouse Monday morning.
  • French Friends of Israel blamed “anti-Zionist propaganda” for encouraging “the murderous lunacy of fanatics”.
  • The Israeli foreign ministry called on the French authorities to "shed full light on this tragedy and bring the perpetrators of these murders to justice".
  • Mohammed Moussaoui of the French Council for the Muslim Faith said he was "horrified by this indescribable criminal act" and he wanted to express the solidarity of France's Muslim community.

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