Gun­man kills 4 in Toulouse Shooter on mo­tor­cy­cle at­tacks Jewish school; ter­ror link mulled

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY JO­HANNA DECORSE

TOULOUSE, FRANCE | A gun­man on a mo­tor­cy­cle opened fire Mon­day in front of a Jewish school in the city of Toulouse, killing a rabbi, his two young sons and a schoolgirl, the pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said.

It was the third deadly mo­tor­cy­cle shoot­ing in the same area in re­cent days.

Prose­cu­tors were study­ing pos­si­ble ter­ror­ist links, but the mo­tive for the at­tack was un­clear. The at­tack shocked the coun­try and prompted strong emo­tions and high-level dis­cus­sions in Is­rael.

Con­cerns emerged about a pos­si­ble se­rial killer with racist mo­ti­va­tions, as in­ves­ti­ga­tors ex­am­ined whether the at­tack was linked to two other shoot­ing at­tacks in the Toulouse re­gion that killed three French para­troop­ers and left an­other se­ri­ously in­jured.

Re­li­gious mi­nori­ties and is­sues of race have emerged as a prom­i­nent is­sue in France’s cur­rent pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. The para­troop­ers killed and in­jured were of North African and French Caribbean ori­gin, and the tar­gets Mon­day were Jewish.

Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Sarkozy rushed to the school, de­nounc­ing “the sav­agery” of the at­tack and vow­ing to track down the killer or killers.

“We will find him,” he said, and or­dered in­creased se­cu­rity at Jewish and Mus­lim build­ings around Toulouse, while his prime min­is­ter told of­fi­cials to “se­cure” all school and re­li­gious build­ings in the en­tire coun­try.

Mr. Sarkozy’s chal­lengers for the pres­i­den­tial vote in April and May also rushed to the scene.

In each of the three at­tacks, the same large-cal­iber bul­let — 11.43 — was used, a po­lice of­fi­cial said. He was not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly and asked not to be iden­ti­fied.

A 30-year-old rabbi and his 3year-old and 6-year-old sons were killed Mon­day just be­fore classes started at the Ozar Hato­rah school, a ju­nior high and high school in a quiet res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood, Toulouse pros­e­cu­tor Michel Valet said.

An­other child, the 8-year-old daugh­ter of the school prin­ci­pal, also was killed, school of­fi­cials said. Mr. Valet said a 17-year-old boy also was se­ri­ously wounded and in the op­er­at­ing ward of a city hospi­tal.

“He shot at ev­ery­thing he had in front of him, chil­dren and adults,” Mr. Valet said. “The chil­dren were chased in­side the school.”

The slain rabbi was Johnathan San­dler, who taught Yid­dish at the school, ac­cord­ing to an­other teacher, Uriel Tor­j­mane.

Mr. San­dler ar­rived here from Jerusalem in Septem­ber with his wife and chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to Zion­ist ac­tivist Char­lotte El­baz.

France has the largest Jewish com­mu­nity in Western Europe, es­ti­mated at about 500,000, as well as its largest Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion, about 5 mil­lion.

Toulouse, a south­west­ern city north of the Pyre­nees, has about 10,000 to 15,000 Jews in its over­all pop­u­la­tion of 440,000, said JeanPaul Amoyelle, pres­i­dent of the Ozar Hato­rah school net­work in France. He said the Toulouse Jewish com­mu­nity is well in­te­grated.

In­te­rior Min­istry spokesman Pierre-henry Bran­det told the As­so­ci­ated Press that the sus­pect made his get­away on a dark-col­ored scooter — just as the as­sailant or as­sailants did in the two shoot­ings last week.

On March 10, a gun­man on a mo­tor­bike shot and killed a para­trooper in Toulouse. On Thurs­day, a gun­man on a mo­tor­bike opened fire on three uni­formed para­troop­ers at a bank ma­chine in Mon­tauban, about 30 miles from Toulouse, killing two and crit­i­cally wound­ing the other.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Po­lice of­fi­cers gather at the site of a shoot­ing in Toulouse on Mon­day. A fa­ther and his two sons were among four peo­ple who died Mon­day when a gun­man opened fire in front of a Jewish school in the city in south­west­ern France, the Toulouse pros­e­cu­tor said Mon­day.

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