4 killed in shooting at French Jewish school

Posted at 6:45 AM, Mar 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-19 07:06:08-04

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- A gunman opened fire on a Jewish school in southern France Monday, killing four people -- the third shooting in the area in 10 days.

The shooting in the city of Toulouse left a teacher and three children dead, including a 3-year-old, said local prosecutor Michel Valet. A fourth child was injured.

The gunman arrived shortly after 8 a.m. and fled on a motor scooter after the shootings. He is believed to have used two different guns, interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

"It's a horrible tragedy," Brandet said on CNN affiliate BFM.

It's the third shooting by a man on a motorcycle in southwest France since March 11, and authorities suspect the cases may be linked, Brandet said.

"Even if it's too early to say whether or not they are the same weapons, there are similarities," Brandet said, citing the use of a motorcycle and the location of the killings.

The interior ministry has ordered police across the country to contact Jewish organizations to arrange increased vigilance, Brandet said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was on his way to Toulouse, his office announced, accompanied by the head of the French Jewish organization CRIF.

The shooting took place at a private school, Ozar Hatorah.

France, which has one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe, had 389 reported acts of anti-Semitism in 2011, according to CRIF.

The news of Monday's shooting brought immediate reaction from Israel and France's grand rabbi.

"We follow with shock the news coming from France, and we trust the French authorities to shed full light on this crime and to bring those responsible to justice," said Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry.

Gilles Bernheim, the grand rabbi of France, said he was "horrified" and "upset" and that he was on his way to the school.

On March 11, a soldier was on his motorbike when a helmeted man on another motorcycle pulled up and shot and killed him, Toulouse police Capt. David Delattre said.

The soldier was not in uniform, and his motorbike did not have any military identification, Delattre said.

On Thursday, two other soldiers were shot dead and another injured by a black-clad man wearing a motorcycle helmet in the southwestern French city of Montauban, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Toulouse.

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