France Investigates Possible Links in Deadly Shootings

Adults comfort a boy as they walk away from the "Ozar Hatorah" Jewish school in Toulouse, southwestern France, March 19, 2012
Adults comfort a boy as they walk away from the "Ozar Hatorah" Jewish school in Toulouse, southwestern France, March 19, 2012
Lisa Bryant

French prosecutors are opening an anti-terrorism investigation into a string of shootings in southern France that killed several Jewish school children and French Muslim soldiers, among others.

France will hold a minute of silence on Tuesday to mark the latest victims in a series of deadly shootings in southern France. Three children and a teacher were shot dead early Monday, after a motorcycle gunman opened fire in front of a Jewish school in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

Toulouse Prosecutor Michel Valet told reporters that a man on a scooter or motorbike began shooting at everyone in front of him. He chased children inside the school. Besides the four people killed, the man also severely wounded a 17-year-old boy, who is in the hospital.

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The killings have left France in shock. Coming just days after two similar shootings of French soldiers in the same region, the attacks raise questions about possible religious or ethnic motives - and feed into ongoing concerns about anti-Semitism in France.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who rushed to Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, said it is still unclear whether the school and the troop shootings are linked.

But Sarkozy said officials were struck by the similarity of the incidents. Last week's shootings, also in Toulouse and the nearby town of Montauban, killed a black soldier and two Muslims. In all three cases, the killer was reportedly on a motorbike.

Investigators also say the same weapon was used in the soldier attacks. They are checking whether that weapon was used in Monday's shootings as well.

The government is now beefing up security at all schools and religious buildings in France. For the estimated 700,000 French Jews, this is nothing new. Security was reinforced a decade ago, following a string of anti-Semitic attacks.

In a radio interview, Marc Pullman, regional secretary-general for the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, or CRIF, said that when anti-Semitism is trivialized, people should not be surprised when such attacks happen.

Coming just a month before presidential elections in France, the shootings have fed into the campaign, prompting calls for tougher security. Socialist Party frontrunner Francois Hollande also rushed to Toulouse, saying he wanted to be "in solidarity" with the victims' families. Other candidates, including far-right politician Marine Le Pen, condemned the attack - as did Israeli and European diplomats.

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by: Jesus
March 19, 2012 9:24 AM
All religious neanderthals should stop the violence for my god TIME will destroy your gods he is all powerful and wise .

by: Gab to Jade, "What is wrong with this person??"
March 19, 2012 8:50 AM
If you had to guess what is wrong with him, what do you think?

by: Gab to Lucas
March 19, 2012 8:45 AM
The world is a beautiful place. The people are a little messed up. Remember, there is no "hidden" reason for this. When a man specifically targets a bunch of innocent Jewish children at a Jewish school, his reason is obvious.

by: Valentsc
March 19, 2012 8:19 AM
We can't forgive this crime!Hope that the police investigation as soon as possible.

by: Gab to John
March 19, 2012 8:00 AM
Are you incapable to make the proper connection. You are equating the bravery of the US targeting of Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan with the targeting this elementary school in Toulouse France. I did not know there was a declared war going on in France.

by: JADE
March 19, 2012 6:45 AM
Wow that's horrible!! Our thoughts and prayers are with these Jewish families who just lost loved ones. What a terrible thing to do to innocent kids! what is wrong with this person?? What is this world coming to?????

by: Lucas
March 19, 2012 6:02 AM
What a horrible world is it!! Why did these happen to children? They are still waiting to explore their lives. They are still children. The shooter is blamed and unforgiving whatever the hidden reason is.

by: Tracy
March 19, 2012 5:49 AM
My heart and prayers go out to the families and students who have been forever changed by this horrible unjust crime that took place today. Please know that there are Americans praying for you who love you and who are standing up to defend and protect your faith.

by: John
March 19, 2012 5:38 AM
As despicable an act as it was. Somehow I think he more brave than the cowards dropping 500pound "precision" bombs on innocent women and children on beaches.

by: Gab
March 19, 2012 5:29 AM
We all know that terrorism is the specific targeting of non-combatants and civilian populations. If you check world news on a daily basis, what is the statistical possibility that this was an Islamist who perpetrated this act?
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