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Four killed in shooting at French Jewish school

JTA

March 19, 2012 | 7:58 am

French police conduct their investigation outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, France on Mar. 19. Photo by REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles

French police conduct their investigation outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, France on Mar. 19. Photo by REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles

Four people—a teacher and three students—were shot dead outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, officials said.

A man riding a motorbike reportedly opened fire Monday morning outside the Ozar Hatorah School, where students were waiting to enter the building at the start of the school day. The shooter then entered the building and continued shooting at students and teachers before fleeing on his motorbike.

Several students also were injured inside the building, according to reports. The dead are reported to be a teacher and his two sons, as well as the daughter of the school’s principal. 

Some 200 students attend the school, according to Israel Radio.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant ordered security to be tightened around all Jewish schools in France after the attack, the French news agency AFP reported.

Gueant and French President Nicolas Sarkozy traveled toToulouse. Sarkozy called the attack a “national tragedy” and vowed to find the killer

The attack followed the fatal shootings of three off-duty soldiers in and near Toulouse by a gunman on a motorbike over the past week. It was not known if the attacks were connected.

“We are horrified by this attack and we trust the French authorities to shed full light on this tragedy and bring the perpetrators of these murders to justice,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.

“Whoever did this is looking to target the Jewish community at its weakest point, its youth, in the hopes of spreading fear throughout the community,” said Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, in a statement. “They will not succeed. The Jews of Europe in general and the Jews of France in particular have a long history of standing firm against hatred and violence, and I know as a community French Jewry will send a message of strength and resilience in the face of those who wish to terrorize them.

“This is a brazen assault on France and French society, and another telling reminder of the dangers that exist for Jewish communities in today’s world,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, in a statement. “We count on French authorities to pursue the investigation vigorously, arrest whoever is involved, and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, as well as review security at Jewish institutions. We have confidence they will.”

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