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Toulouse: French children, teacher killed in Jewish school shooting (VIDEO)

The French city of Toulouse was in "lockdown" this morning after three children and a teacher were shot dead outside a Jewish high school.

Toulouse jewish school shooting franceEnlarge
Policemen are at work near the 'Ozar Hatorah' Jewish school, on March 19, 2012 in Toulouse, southwestern France, where four people (three of them children), were killed when a gunman opened fire. This is the third gun attack in a week by a man who fled on a motorbike. (ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images)

PARIS, France – The teacher shot dead outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, this morning has been identified as Jonathan Sandler. He was a French Israeli and the father of two children also killed during the shooting, the Los Angeles Times reported.

According to The Associated Press, President Nicolas Sarkozy said today that authorities were raising the terrorism alert in sourthern France to "scarlet," the highest level,  after the school shooting, which the president described as France's worst ever. Fourteen riot police units "will secure the region as long as the criminal" has not been caught, Sarkozy was quoted as saying.

The Guardian said that Sandler's two children who were killed were aged 3 and 6. The third child, 10, was the daughter of the school's headmaster, according to Rahamim Sabag, a rabbi who worked at the school. A fifth person, a teenager, is understood to have been seriously injured.

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Witnesses said a man opened fire at 7:55 am on a group of people waiting at a pick-up point outside the private Ozar Hatorah school, in the Croix-Daurade neighborhood, before fleeing on a black motorcycle, the BFM news channel reported.

French media reports said the city was in "lockdown," while police searched for the shooter. The street, rue Jules Dalou, was immediately cordoned off, and French Interior Minister Claude Gueant ordered security to be tightened around all French Jewish schools.

Citing information received by France's Europe 1 radio, Le Parisien reported that the attacker was armed with two guns, one of which was an 11.43mm automatic pistol.

This is the same caliber weapon used in two similar shootings a week ago against military personnel in Toulouse and nearby Montauban, which killed three soldiers and wounded a fourth. The soldiers who were shot were of north African and Caribbean origin, and two of them were Muslims, according to the Guardian.

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, along with Gueant, visited the site on Monday. He told French radio: "This is a terrible tragedy that has affected the entire French population."

After his visit, Sarkozy said that the killer would be brought to justice, adding, "Barbary, savagery, cruelty cannot win. Hate cannot win. The Republic is stronger than that," according to the Guardian.

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Opposition Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande was also on his way to the site to express "solidarity" with France's Jewish community, while right wing National Front candidate Marine Le Pen urged the authorities to make every effort to catch the perpetrator.

Gilles Bernheim, the Chief Rabbi of France, said he was horrified by the shooting. "I am bruised body and soul ... I am terribly upset and will go immediately to Toulouse."

Israeli media interrupted regular programming to provide details of the attack, while a spokesman for the Israeli foreign affairs ministry said Israel was relying on Paris "to shed light" on the tragedy, France's TF1 news channel reported. 

The Conference of European Rabbis, a confederation of Jewish leaders in dozens of European countries, described the school shooting as an "act of barbarism" and promised to build more schools and synagogues.

"If there are people who want to scare the Jewish community, our answer is that we will not let ourselves be intimidated," CER president, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said.

In a statement, the French anti-terrorism prosecutor, Francois Molins, said he had opened murder investigations into the three shootings against school and military targets.

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Here is a clip, courtesy of the Guardian, with Sarkozy's remarks and scenes from the school:

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/120319/toulouse-two-children-rabbi-shot-dead-jewish-school-france-Ozar%20Hatorah