Montauban: Two French soldiers were
killed and another seriously wounded in a drive-by shooting
near a military base in the southwestern city of Montauban
on Thursday, a state official said.
The locally based official told the shooting took
place around 1840 IST on a street not far from the base
housing the 17th Parachute Engineering Regiment (RGP).
The dead French soldiers were aged 26 and 24, according to
a police source. The wounded man, who is said to be in a
critical condition, is 28.
The state official said a scooter-rider, wearing a helmet
with visor, opened fire on the three uniformed soldiers on a
street near businesses, shops and a bank branch, then drove
off at speed.
Investigators found 15 spent cartridges at the scene,
police said. They are operating on the theory that the shooter
was acting alone.
The official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity,
told that it was not clear if the victims had been withdrawing
money from the bank, but a television news report of the
incident said that one of them had.
Authorities launched an extensive search for the gunman
involving a large number of police and national gendarmes, the
The incident follows another shooting on Sunday that saw a
30-year-old soldier shot dead by an assailant on a motorcycle
in a residential area of Toulouse, 46 kilometres south of
Prosecutors said they were considering a number of
possibilities in that shooting, in which the victim was an
off-duty NCO from the 1st Parachute Logistics Regiment,
including that it was the result of a personal dispute.
But police refused to say whether or not they believed
there is a link between the two shootings.
Today`s victims were from a 1,000-strong unit of sappers
specialised in mine and explosives clearance, breaching
fortifications and urban warfare.
In recent years the 17th RGP has often been deployed on
operations in Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Balkans, having
been founded in 1946 and then fighting in colonial wars in
South East Asia and the UN action in Korea.
In is headquartered in Montauban in southwest France, a
region which is home to all of France`s elite airborne units.
France still has more than 3,000 soldiers deployed in
Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led mission fighting the