The bodies of three children and a rabbi gunned down at a Jewish school in France were flown to Israel today for burial, as French police raided a house in Toulouse and engaged in a gunbattle with a suspect in the killings.
French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the suspected gunman is a 24-year-old French national who claims connections to al-Qaida and “wants to take revenge for Palestinian children” killed in the Middle East.
The victims were shot dead on Monday in the deadliest school attack France has ever known and the bloodiest assault on Jewish targets in decades.
The El Al Israel Airlines flight from Paris carrying the bodies of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his sons Gabriel, three, and Arieh, five, and Myriam Monsenego, the eight-year-old daughter of the school’s principal, landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport before dawn.
Relatives, officials of the French Jewish community and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe accompanied the bodies.
Memorial prayers were read over the coffins before they were placed in four ambulances for transport to a Jerusalem cemetery, where they are to be buried this morning.
Meanwhile, French police exchanged fire and were negotiating today with a gunman suspected of killing the four at the school and also three French paratroops in two earlier attacks.
Mr Gueant, the French interior minister, said the man spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The French had been conducting a massive manhunt since Monday’s shootings at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse.