News

    Manhunt Under Way in France for Gunman Who Killed 4 at Jewish School

    Police gather at the site of a shooting in Toulouse, southwestern France, Monday, March 19, 2012.
    Police gather at the site of a shooting in Toulouse, southwestern France, Monday, March 19, 2012.

    French authorities have launched a manhunt for a suspected serial killer who opened fire at a Jewish school in the southern city of Toulouse, killing a rabbi, his two young sons and the principal's young daughter.

    The French government raised its terrorism alert to the highest level for the southwestern region around Toulouse, in response to Monday's shooting at the Ozar Hatorah school by a lone gunman who sped away on a motorcycle.

    It was the third fatal shooting in the Toulouse area in eight days by a gunman on a motorcycle using the same type of weapon.  In the two earlier incidents, an assailant opened fire on French soldiers of North African and French Caribbean origin, killing three of them.

    Watch related video

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy rushed to the scene of the school attack and said he believes all three shootings were linked by "murderous" racism toward French minorities.  He said "the anti-Semitic motivation" against the Jewish school assault is "obvious."  Authorities quickly increased security at Jewish and Muslim schools and houses of worship across the region.

    Witnesses say the gunman, his face disguised by a helmet, stormed into the school just before the start of morning classes and fired at the rabbi and the three children, all under age 10.  A 17-year-old boy also was shot and seriously wounded.  The attacker's first weapon jammed, prompting him to switch to a second gun.

    Sarkozy called the shooting "a national tragedy" and ordered a moment of silence to be observed in all French schools on Tuesday.  He also suspended his re-election campaign until Wednesday.  The president's main challenger in the May vote, Francois Hollande, also rushed to Toulouse to pay his respects. Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Hollande later attended a memorial service at a Paris synagogue.

    The rabbi and three children killed in the attack all were dual French and Israeli citizens. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the shooting as a "despicable murder" and said Israel will do everything it can to help French authorities find the killer.  His government also said the four victims will be buried in Israel. Their bodies were brought back to the Ozar Hatorah school on Monday night for a vigil attended by students.

    In Washington, the White House said it is deeply saddened by the attack and condemned it as an "unprovoked and outrageous act of violence." U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the shooting "in the strong possible terms" and expressed condolences to the victims' families, the Jewish community and the French people.

    France is home to at least a half-million Jews who represent Europe's largest Jewish community. The Toulouse shooting was the deadliest attack on that community since the early 1980s.

    A French organization that monitors anti-Semitism says 389 incidents were recorded last year, ranging from vandalism to violence. The figure reported by the Protection Service for the Jewish Community (SPCJ) marked a decline from 466 anti-Semitic acts in 2010.

    The Anti-Defamation League, a U.S.-based rights group, told VOA that Toulouse has seen several "troubling" anti-Semitic incidents in recent years, including the ramming of a burning car into the front of a synagogue while a rabbi and children were inside in 2009. Vandals broke into another local synagogue in 2010 and scrawled the words "dirty Jews."

    ADL's director of international affairs Michael Salberg said those incidents have left the French Jewish community feeling insecure. He said the response of French leaders and law enforcement to Monday's attack was "very positive," but he said France must do more to prevent additional tragedies. Salberg urged French authorities to be on "constant alert for danger and to keep that level of vigilance high."


    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin
    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.