Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: French President Sarkozy raised the terror alert level to its highest level across a swath of southwest France on Monday afternoon, hours after a shooting at a Jewish school there killed at least four people, including three children, the Associated Press reports.
French officials have also confirmed that the school shooting appears to be linked to a pair of attacks that killed French paratroopers last week, reports the AFP. The suspect is believed to have used the same gun and escape vehicle in all three attacks.
French daily Libération, meanwhile, reports that 130 police officers have been deployed to Toulouse in search of the killer, who fled the scene by scooter. The police are apparently following two principal leads that the killer is either from an extreme-right group or Islamist one. Israeli news agency Ynet reports that the police are also investigating three neo-Nazis who were sacked from the French army in 2008 for a photo showing them giving Nazi salutes in front of a swastika flag.
The president reiterated his condemnation of the attack in a televised address Monday evening, saying, "This act is odious and cannot remain unpunished."
The teacher and children killed will be buried in Israel, according to Libération.
Monday, March 19, at 2:14 p.m.: A gunman reportedly killed at least four people, including three children, outside a Jewish school in southwestern France on Monday morning.
France 24 reports that a Toulouse city official said that the gunman "shot at everything he could see, children and adults, and some children were chased into the school." The gunman is said to have then fled on a black scooter. One parent described the incident as a "a vision of horror."
The dead reportedly include a 30-year-old teacher, his two children, aged three and six, and one other student, aged either 8 or 10—although there are several conflicting reports about the age and sex of the victims. Le Monde, for one, reports that the teacher's children were girls; the New York Times reports that they were boys named Arye and Gabriel—both male names in Hebrew. Le Monde and the Times agree, however, that the third child killed was a girl aged 8, and not 10, as France 24 had reported.
A 17-year-old boy was also seriously wounded and was in critical condition at a local hospital, according to the Times.
Police are investigating possible links to recent shootings in the region. As the Times notes, last week "a man on a motorbike killed three French paratroopers in two separate shootings, using a pistol of the same caliber as one of two weapons used in the Toulouse killings, police officials said." According to France 24, the soldiers who were killed in those shootings were from ethnic minorities, of North African and Antillean origin.
French officials have ordered police to beef up security around the nation's Jewish schools in the wake of the shooting. Ozar Hatorah, where the shooting took place, is one of roughly 300 such schools in France, which houses the largest Jewish community in Europe. Estimated at 700,000, the largely Sephardic community is mostly from France’s old colonies in North Africa.
President Nicolas Sarkozy has since visited the school, calling the shootings a “national tragedy,” and has called for a minute of silence in all French schools for Tuesday.