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France fears Jewish school gunman may strike again

French police stepped up the search on Tuesday for a gunman who filmed his carnage as he shot dead three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school, fearing the killer could strike again.



Toulouse: French police stepped up the search on Tuesday for a gunman who filmed his carnage as he shot dead three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school, fearing the killer could strike again.

Officials believe the scooter-riding gunman is a trained marksman with "extremist" views who may also be responsible for last week`s shootings of three soldiers of North African origin.

France`s President Nicolas Sarkozy has said racism appeared to be the motivation for Monday`s school attack, which came just five weeks before the first round of the presidential election.

Racist and anti-Semitic attacks are not uncommon in France.

Immigrants and Islam have been major themes of the campaign as Sarkozy tries to win over the voters of far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Analysts say the shootings could transform the election debate and possibly tone down populist rhetoric.

"We will track down this monster," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said of the killer on France 2 television. "We will find him, bring him to justice and punish him."

France is home to the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe and has a history of attacks on both groups, but Monday`s shooting was the most deadly anti-Semitic attack on French soil in nearly 30 years.

The police tightened security at religious sites, raised the terror alert in the southern town to the highest possible level and talked to gun clubs in an effort to track down the killer.

"It would be surprising if he stops now," one police officer involved in the investigation told Reuters.

Surveillance tapes at the school showed the gunman recorded his shooting spree with a small video camera around his neck.

He is also the prime suspect in the killing of three paratroopers in two separate shootings last week in Toulouse and the nearby town of Montauban.

"This shows a profile of the murderer as someone who is very cold, very determined, with precise gestures, and therefore very cruel," Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.

In each attack, the gunman arrived on a stolen Yamaha scooter and used a Colt 45 handgun. His face was hidden by a motorcycle helmet during the attacks.

The three dead soldiers included two members of the 17th parachute regiment. Police have interviewed three former soldiers expelled from the regiment for neo-Nazi activity in 2008, but a police source told Reuters on Tuesday they had been ruled out of the investigation.

Bureau Report

From Zee News

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