Monday, March 19, 2012

Terrorism - French Jews Targeted

Latest UPDATE from March 21 / 23 at the end of this blogspot !
استمرار حصار المشتبه فيه بهجوم تولوز على مدرسة يهودية
المشتبه فيه الذي زعم أنه على صلة بتنظيم القاعدة

snapshot of culprit [French TV station]

مقتل أربعة أشخاص و إصابة أخرين في اطلاق نار أمام مدرسة يهودية في تولوز بفرنسا
Four persons killed and others hurt in a shootout in front of a Jewish school in Toulouse / France.

الحادث يأتي بعد أسبوع من مقتل عسكريين في إطلاق نار مماثل في مونتوبان
The incident occured one week after the killing of two soldiers in a similar shootout in Montauban.

السلطات الفرنسية تفرض أعلى مستوى انذار ضد الإرهاب جنوب البلاد بعد الهجوم على مدرسة يهودية في مدينة تولوز
French authorities are considering a high-level anti-terror alert for the Southern part of the country after the attack on a Jewish school in the town of Toulouse.

[Source: Al-Jazeera, Arabic channel, on March 19]

Additional news from Radio France Info on March 19:
According to a witness and police investigation, the terrorist used a 9 mm weapon [ later a .45-calibre gun ] when targeting children at the Jewish school in Toulouse. Three children of the age up to ten and one teacher died in the course of that shooting spree.

Quotations from The Telegraph, London, on March 20:

"He was calm and determined. In cold blood he assassinated them as if he was killing animals," said Nicola Yardeni, the regional president of CRIF, France's Jewish organisation, after viewing CCTV footage of the shootings from surveillance cameras.

"You see a man park his motorcycle, start to shoot, enter the school grounds and chase children to catch one and shoot a bullet into her head. It's unbearable to watch. He was looking to kill."

Police began a huge manhunt, erecting roadblocks across Toulouse, and put extra security outside religious schools across France. The attack is being linked with two other shootings in the Toulouse area in little more than a week, prompting fears that France is dealing with a racist serial killer. Last Thursday, three soldiers were shot as they stood by a cash machine in Montauban, 30 miles north of Toulouse, by a gunman dressed in black and riding a motor scooter. Two of the victims, aged 26 and 24, died immediately. They were of north African descent. The third, 28, who is in a coma in hospital, is from the French overseas region of Guadeloupe. A witness described how the gunman approached one soldier who was wounded and attempting to crawl away, turned him over with his foot and fired three more shots into him before getting back on his scooter and making his escape.

Four days previously in Toulouse a 30-year old soldier from the 1st Parachute Logistics Regiment was shot dead – again by a gunman on a motor scooter. The victim was also of north African origin. One of the weapons used at the school was the same calibre as that used in the attacks on the soldiers – a .45 calibre automatic pistol.

There were reports in France that police were looking for three former soldiers of the logistics regiment sacked for "neo-Nazi" activities. The men were all ejected from the army in 2008 after a photograph emerged of them making Nazi salutes in front of a swastika. "Police are interested in locating those men to see if there may be some connection," said a source close to the investigation.

The prospect of a serial killer targeting religious and minority groups spread fear across the nation and is likely to raise questions over controversial remarks made during the presidential campaign relating to faith and immigration.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is seeking re-election with votes in April and May, has come under attack by religious leaders and from within his own party for veering to the Right. Presidential campaigning was suspended yesterday as Mr Sarkozy visited Toulouse, followed later by his socialist challenger, François Hollande.

Latest UPDATE on March 21:

According to French authorities, the serial killer of Toulouse has finally been identified as 24-year-old Mohammed Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin. The man has already been surrounded for hours in his Toulouse apartment where he is holding contact with security forces. Merah already confirmed being the serial killer and claimed working for Al-Qaeda.

Satellite view
of Toulouse:
Photos marking
Jewish school
and Merah's home

As to the children Merah cornered and murdered in a Jewish school, he said he was avenging the killings of Palestinian children while his killings of three soldiers should be seen as a protest against the deployment of French troops in Afghanistan. Earlier expectations blaming a "racist serial killer" with "neo-Nazi background" for the linked shooting sprees in Toulouse and in the neighbouring community of Montauban have therefore been dropped.
[Source: Al-Jazeera - Doha, German TV channel 1, Haaretz - Tel Aviv]

Another snapshot of Mohammed Merah as published by a French TV channel, the photo's origin and date remaining unknown [cited from People's Network, Beijing, on March 23]. 法国当地电视台曝光的梅拉照片,日期及来源不详. Merah was finally shot by French police on the same day.

It was only one day after Merah's death that French police accused his brother of complicency. According to Radio France International, his brother was quoted having praised the killings, and there must have been other evidence as well.
Maybe, this affair is just showing the "top of the iceberg" of a general disapproval of French society among some underprivileged youngsters of North African origin. Up to now, nobody really knows how far this is going, even though, the problem itself has already surfaced in different uprisings in the suburbs of Paris since the 1990s.

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