Lone gunman shoots father and sons dead at school in south-west France

Lone gunman shoots father and sons dead at school in south-west France

A father, his two sons and another child were shot dead in front of their school in France by a lone gunman today.

The attack came at about 8am, just before the start of lessons at the Jewish school in the south-west city of Toulouse.

Security was immediately increased at all Jewish schools across the country, the interior ministry announced.

Toulouse prosecutor Michel Valet said a 30-year-old man and his three-year-old and six-year-old sons were killed in the attack just before classes started at the Ozar Hatorah school. He said another child, between eight and 10 years old, was also killed, and a 17-year-old seriously injured.

“A man arrived in front of the school on a motorcycle or scooter,” Mr Valet said, adding that the man got off the scooter and opened fire.

“He shot at everything he had in front of him, children and adults,” he said. “The children were chased inside the school”

The prosecutor said the suspect probably used two weapons, including one of a large calibre, before getting back on the scooter and riding away.

It was the latest in a week of motorcycle shooting attacks in France. A gunman on a motorbike opened fire on three uniformed paratroopers at a bank machine on Thursday in Montauban, 30 miles from Toulouse, killing two and critically wounding the other. Four days earlier, a gunman on a motorbike shot and killed another paratrooper in Toulouse.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said it will investigate eventual terrorist links to the killings but there was no evidence so far linking them with terrorism.

The prosecutor said there were similarities with the attack four days ago in Montauban. Forensic analysis showed the same weapon was used in the shootings in Montauban and Toulouse.

President Nicolas Sarkozy accompanied by Richard Prasquier, the president of CRIF, the umbrella group representing Jewish organizations, were heading to the school.

Meanwhile the school, behind a high white wall with few external markings, was cordoned off by police, who then escorted other children out.

One officer held a distraught girl, her face in her hands. A mother and son wearing a yarmulke walked away from the site, their faces visibly pained.

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