Teacher, 3 kids killed in shooting at French school | world | Hindustan Times
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Teacher, 3 kids killed in shooting at French school

A suspected serial killer shot dead three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in France on Monday, in what was branded an anti-Semitic attack, plunging the nation into shock.

world Updated: Mar 19, 2012 23:09 IST

A suspected serial killer shot dead three children and a teacher at a Jewish school in France on Monday, in what was branded an anti-Semitic attack, plunging the nation into shock.

President Nicolas Sarkozy declared the murders a “national tragedy” as anti-terror police probed the third fatal shooting involving a motorcyclist wielding a large calibre pistol in the Toulouse region in recent days.

France stepped up security at Jewish and Muslim schools following the assault on the Ozar Hatorah primary school, which local parents, rights groups and the government denounced as an anti-Semitic atrocity.

Two boys aged three and six and their father, a 30-year-old religious studies teacher, were gunned down, along with the 10-year-old daughter of the director of the school.

The gunman opened fire on a crowd as children arrived for class, then charged onto school grounds. A fifth victim, a 17-year-old boy, was left in a critical condition.

The killer escaped on a motorbike and was still at large.

Last week, three French paratroopers — all French soldiers of North African descent — were killed in two similar incidents in the same region, also involving a scooter-rider wielding a powerful .45 calibre handgun.

“This tragedy has left the entire national community distraught,” Sarkozy declared at the scene, his voice audibly cracking as he sent condolences to the Jewish community and the mother who lost a husband and two children.

The attack was the first of its kind apparently targeting Jews since the Rue des Rosiers massacre in 1982, in which six people died in a shooting at a restaurant in Paris’s most famous Jewish district.

Campaigning in France’s Presidential election was effectively suspended, while both the right-wing incumbent Sarkozy and his Socialist rival Francois Hollande rushed to Toulouse to pay their respects.

“We cannot back down in the face of terror,” Sarkozy said, vowing his interior minister would stay in Toulouse until the crime was solved.

“And of course our thoughts are with these shattered families, with this mother who at the same moment lost her children and her husband, with the director of the school who saw his daughter die before his eyes. Barbarism, savagery, cruelty cannot win,” he said.