Monday, March 19, 2012
Hunt For 'Nazi' Soldiers in France school shooting
Hunt ... for three soldiers sacked over claims they were neo-Nazis
COPS probing the fatal shootings of a teacher and three children at a Jewish school are hunting three soldiers sacked over claims they were neo-Nazis.
The men were all axed from their elite paratrooper regiment in 2008 after a photo surfaced of them giving Nazi salutes in front of a Swastika flag.
Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30, his two sons Aryeh, three, and Gavriel Yissacher, six, as well as eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego were shot dead by a motorbike gunman outside Ozar Hatorah college in Toulouse, France, today.
Miriam was the daughter of the school's headteacher.
Their deaths come days after three soldiers — from the same 17th Parachute Engineer Regiment with which the sacked trio served — were shot dead in broad daylight in Montauban 30 miles away last Thursday.
Another solider was also shot in a Toulouse street by a motorcycle gunman on March 11
A French news magazine said all the victims were of Jewish, black or North African Arab background.
It added: "The profile of these men corresponds to the scant information investigators have on the Toulouse killer — that is to say muscular and tattoed."
Public prosecutor Michel Valet said after the latest attack: "Shortly before eight o'clock a man on a powerful scooter or a motorbike dismounted and shot at everything he could see. At children as well as adults.
"The man initially used a 9mm pistol after riding up to the school on his scooter.
"When this jammed he used a .45 calibre weapon, and chased pupils inside the school."
Five other people were injured in the attack, including one 17-year-old college student who is fighting for his life.
A centre has been set up inside the school to provide psychological support to children and parents.
Witness Franck Califa said: "For now, I have only tears. I'm in shock. I do not think things like that can happen. I held one of the victims in my arms."
Around 130 children and teachers hid in the building and an adjoining synagogue after the shots were fired.
Another witness said: "It was chaos."
French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who flew to Toulouse in the morning, said: "This is an appalling tragedy.
"The whole of the French Republic has been affected by this abominable crime."
Patrick Rouimi, who works at the college, said the killer was riding a black motorbike and wearing a black crash helmet.
He said he heard bursts of gunfire at a set-down and collection point for children at the college, who are aged from 11 to 17.
A Toulouse police spokesman said: "This is the third drive-by motorbike shooting in this region in a week, and clearly possible links will be explored."
France's chief rabbi Gilles Bernheim said he was "shell-shocked" by the attack.
He added: "I am utterly horrified by what happened in Toulouse this morning, which has wounded my body and my soul.