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French police raid home over school killing


The raid came amid a massive manhunt for the killer of the shooting  [EPA]

Two French police officers have been injured in a shoot-out during a raid on a house to arrest suspects in the killings of three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in southwest France this week, a police source said.

The source said the raid began at 3.00 am local time (0200 GMT), but did not provide further details.

Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Toulouse, said the raid “was ongoing” but that there are “very limited details on what is going on”.

“More details are filtering through via French news television … Gunshots have been heard and we’re hearing reports that a 24-year-old man is being held up in the house in the north of Toulouse.

“The French interior minister has arrived on the scene to oversee the operation – this is very much a developing situation at the moment and we are only getting very limited details,” she said.

The raid came as bodies of the victims gunned down in southern France arrived in Israel after it was flown by Israeli  El Al airlines. 

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe along with 50 relatives and friends of the victims accompanied the bodies as they were flown home.

Jonathan Sandler, a 30-year-old Frenchman, his two sons Arieh, 5, and Gabriel, 4 as well as seven-year-old Myriam Monsonego will be buried later on Wednesday morning at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem, according to the Israeli embassy in France.

President Nicolas Sarkozy paid silent homage to the victims on Tuesday at a school in Paris close to the city’s Holocaust memorial, and afterwards admitted that authorities had as yet no clue as to the identity of the killer.

“Anti-Semitism is obvious. The Jewish school attack was an anti-Semitic crime,” Sarkozy told reporters at the Paris school after meeting children.

French investigators fear the same gunman also killed three soldiers in two recent separate attacks and may strike again.

The soldiers were French citizens of North African origin, while another who was critically wounded in the attack was black and from the French West Indies.

Massive manhunt

French police on Monday launched a huge manhunt after the shooting and the region was put on its highest level of security alert.

More than 100 officers were dispatched to the area to search for the gunman, who is also a prime suspect in the killing of three soldiers in two separate shootings last week.

Police said that the same weapon and the same stolen scooter appeared to have been used in all three attacks.


 

All three attacks were carried out by the rider using a .45-calibre weapon, who witnesses described as calmly shooting his victims.

The gunman may also have recorded the attack with an extreme sports video camera strapped to his chest, Claude Gueant, the French interior minister, said.

“A witness saw a small video camera around the killer’s neck,” Gueant told Europe 1 radio on Tuesday.

“It’s a video camera worn in a harness on the chest and indeed he was seen, a witness said so, with this device,” Gueant said. “I don’t know if he filmed everything.”

Victims shot in the head

All seven people slain in three attacks were shot in the head at point blank range, the prosecutor leading the investigation said on Tuesday.

Francois Molins, who as Paris’ chief prosecutor oversees counter-terrorism inquiries, said the unidentified gunman knew that he was being hunted and warned that he was therefore “likely to act again”.

Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Toulouse, said authorities believed the gunman may have recorded the killings to raise his profile.

“Police have been searching the internet for any video trace of those images that the gunman may have potentially been recording.”

Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, who last July went on a shooting spree that killed 77 people, mostly children, advised anyone wanting to carry out copycat killings to film their attack using such a camera.

“This extremely small and lightweight field camera is used to document your operation,” Behring Breivik wrote in an online manifesto published shortly before the killings.

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