France Is On Its Highest Level Of Terror Alert After The Unexplained Shooting Of Jewish Children And Paratroopers

France Toulouse Rabbi Shooting Police

Photo: AP

A major manhunt is under way across France after a gunman on a motorbike opened fire on a Jewish school on Monday, killing several people.A rabbi and his two young sons were killed by the shooter as they waited for a bus outside the Ozar Hatorah school in the northeast of Toulouse. A seven-year-old girl also died when the attacker chased her down and shot her at point-blank range.

A massive manhunt is now underway and the terrorism alert level has been raised to its highest level across the area surrounding Toulouse. Security has been increased at schools and synagogues around the country.

French investigators are pursuing the possibility that the attacker is a serial killer who is responsible for the fatal shooting of two soldiers in Montauban, southern France, last week.

The shootings echoed across a nation that has been focused on an upcoming presidential race in which issues about religious minorities and race have gained prominence. President Nicolas Sarkozy — facing a hard re-election battle — raised the terrorism alert level in the region to its highest level, while also noting a possible racist motive.

“This act is despicable, it cannot go unpunished,” Sarkozy said in a prime-time address to the nation. “Each time this man acts, he acts to kill, giving his victims no chance.”

Meanwhile, the French interior minister has said that the gunman may have filmed the attack.

Claude Gueant said that the attacker “was wearing on his bloody chest a kind of filming apparatus.” Asked whether the gunman recorded the scene, Gueant responded, “We can imagine that.”

He said Tuesday authorities are combing the Internet to see if the killer posted a video online, but have not yet found any traces.

All French schools will observe a minute’s silence to honour the victims today.

Additional reporting by the AP

This post originally appeared in The Journal.

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