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France: Shooter murders three children and a teacher in front of Jewish school

Toulouse, France, 19.3.2012 19:13, (ROMEA)

This morning an unidentified shooter murdered at least three children and one adult in front of a Jewish school in Toulouse in the southwest of France. Agence-France Presse (AFP) quoted the state prosecutor as saying another two children have been seriously injured. The attack took place in front of the Ozar Hatora Jewish School in the residential neighborhood of Bonnefoy at around 8 AM, just before the start of the school day.

Prosecutor Michel Valet said a 30-year-old teacher, his two sons aged three and six, and a 10-year-old schoolboy have now died as result of the shooting. One of those seriously injured is a youth of 17. Witnesses said the perpetrator arrived at the scene of the crime on a black scooter. The media are linking this incident to the recent murders of French soldiers under similar circumstances.

French Interior Minister Claude Guéant has gone to visit the scene of this unfortunate incident and has already instructed tighter security measures in the area of all Jewish schools in France. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has also decided to travel to Toulouse. French presidential elections will be held next month, and left-wing presidential candidate François Hollande is also traveling to the southwestern city.

Gilles Bernheim, the Chief Rabbi of France, told AFP he is deeply shaken by the murders. The state of Israel issued a similar statement calling for an immediate investigation of the incident.

Given the circumstances of today's attack there is speculation that the crime might have something in common with the recent murders of soldiers in the area. A shooter on a motorcycle, like today's attacker in Toulouse, murdered two parachutists and seriously injured a third last Thursday in the nearby town of Montauban. Last week another parachutist from the Franzacal military base was also murdered in Toulouse. The victims belonged to various regiments that sent soldiers to Afghanistan. The media have reported that the attacks on all of the soldiers were committed with the same weapon.

Minister Guéant has admitted there is a certain similarity between all of these incidents. Sarkozy has also spoke of their similarities. The media are speculating that the weapon used in today's shooting could also be identical with the one used to murder the soldiers.

A reporter for the France 24 television station said dozens of police officers are intervening at the site of the shooting and that a helicopter is looking for the motorcyclist, who fled the scene. The reporter said the murders of the French soldiers and today's attack in front of the Jewish school have an obvious racial subtext, because all of the victims were members of various ethnic minorities.

Selected cases of recent public shootings in Europe:

27 July 2007: In the village of Jabukovac in eastern Serbia, a 38-year-old man shot at random passers-by. He murdered nine people and injured two before police arrested him.

7 November 2007: An 18-year-old student shot dead eight people and then himself at a high school in the southern town of Tuusule in Finland.

29 May 208: A 45-year-old man shot six people to death and seriously injured one person near the city of Tuzla in Bosnia. Police said the assailant was a former Bosnian soldier.

23 September 2008: An armed student at a high school in the town of Kauhajoki in Finland shot dead 10 of his fellow pupils, injured several others seriously, and then turned his weapon on himself.

11 March 2009: A 17-year-old went on a shooting spree at a high school in the western town of Winnenden in Germany, taking the lives of 16 people. The perpetrator committed suicide after a shootout with police.

31 December 2009: A total of five people were shot dead by a Kosovo Albanian in the town of Espoo near Helsinki in Finland. Four people were murdered in a shopping center, while the fifth victim, the shooter's former girlfriend, was murdered in a nearby apartment. The man then committed suicide.

2 June 2010: An armed man murdered 12 people, including his own brother, at several locations throughout the county of Cumbria in northwestern England. The assailant, a 52-year-old taxi driver, committed suicide.

30 August 2010: A 48-year-old man murdered seven people, injured another 15, and then committed suicide in the Devínská Nová Ves neighborhood of Bratislava in Slovakia. Six of his victims were members of the same family. There was speculation that the man's crime was motivated by disputes with his neighbors.

9 April 2011: Six people died and another 16 were injured during a shooting at a shopping center in the town of Alphen aan de Rijn in the Netherlands, including the shooter, who committed suicide.

22 July 2011: Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik shot 68 people to death on the island of Utöya in Norway. One person whom he injured seriously during that attack died one week later in hospital. Prior to the shooting, Breivik committed a bomb attack on government buildings in the center of Oslo, costing eight people their lives.

13 December 2011: Five people were murdered and as many as 125 injured in the eastern town of Lutych in Belgium during a rampage by Nordine Amrani (age 33). Amrani first murdered a housewife who was his neighbor and then threw grenades and shot off a machine gun at noon in the center of town at a busy intersection. He then committed suicide.

19 March 2012: An unidentified shooter murdered at least three people, including two children, in front of a Jewish school in Toulouse in southwestern France and injured several others.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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