French Jews in mourning after Toulouse murders

By Jennifer Lipman, March 20, 2012
Four were killed outside the school in Toulouse

Four were killed outside the school in Toulouse

A vigil was held overnight in Toulouse as France's Jewish community reeled at its worst attack in 30 years.

Four people, three of whom were children , were killed yesterday after a gunman shot at pupils arriving at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse. All the victims are to be buried in Israel.

The French presidential campaign has been suspended in the wake of the attacks, which police have linked to two other shootings earlier this month.

The murderer's motive is unknown, although the victims of the other killings were paratroopers of North African and Caribbean origin, raising the belief that he is targeting minority groups.

A cousin of the adult victim, Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, said she blamed "hatred of Jews" for what happened.

"Why else would anyone shoot at a Jewish school?" said Caroline Laustria.

The murders have been condemned all around the world, with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon offering his "sincere condolences to the victims' families and the Jewish community". Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attacks were "despicable murder".

In Toulouse, mourners gathered last night for a vigil, while thousands marched in Paris to express their solidarity with the families of those killed.

With a community numbering 600,000, France has Europe's largest Jewish community.

The last time Jews were targeted in France on this scale was 1982, when six people were killed by Palestinian gunmen.

Last updated: 10:34am, March 20 2012