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Police Concerned ‘Serial Killer’ Behind Toulouse Attack

French officials expressed concern that the murder of four Jews in Toulouse is a part of a serial killing spree after ballistics match.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 3/19/2012, 5:50 PM

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French officials said Monday they are examining the possibility that a serial killer was behind the murder of four Jews in southern France after ballistics matched two previous shootings.

A motorcycle gunman opened fire on Monday in front of a Jewish school in the southern French city of Toulouse, killing an Israeli rabbi, his two small sons, and one other child.

"He shot at everything he had in front of him, children and adults," Toulouse Prosecutor Michel Valet told reporters. "The children were chased inside the school."

Echoing French president Nicolas Sarkozy who rushed to the school to condemn the attack, Valet also denounced the "savagery" of the attack.

Valet added that prosecutors were studying possible terrorist links, but added that the motive for Monday's attack was unclear in light of previous shootings.

On March 10, a motorbike-borne gunman shot and killed a paratrooper in Toulouse. And last Thursday, a gunman on a motorbike opened fire on three uniformed paratroopers in Montauban, about 30 miles from Toulouse. Connecting the incidents might obscure the anti-Semitic motive in attacking a Jewish school.

French media reported the paratroopers targeted in the second attack were of Arab origin.

The attacks have shocked France and now prompted high-level discussions in Israel.

In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denounced the murders as "loathsome" and vowed to aid the French authorities in bringing the shooter to justice.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said "whether it was a terror attack or a hate crime, the loss of life is unacceptable."

France has the largest Jewish community in western Europe, estimated at about 500,000. France also has the largest Muslim population in western Europe, about 5 million. Approximately 23,000 Jews live in Toulouse.