French police hunting cold-blooded killer after two soldiers shot dead in Montauban
French police are hunting a gunman who calmly shot three soldiers on a shopping street in broad daylight, in the southern garrison town of Montauban on Thursday. Two died on the spot and a third from the same regiment was in critical condition following the attack.
Police sources said that the crime resembled a similar killing four days earlier in Toulouse, a city 46 kilometres south of Montauban, where a soldier from another airborne regiment was shot dead.
Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said the motive for the cold-blooded murders remained a complete mystery.
The attack happened early afternoon on Thursday as three uniformed soldiers from the
17th Parachute Engineering Regiment, which recently served in Afghanistan, were
standing by a bank's cash machine on a main street near their barracks.
The killer, clad in a black motorcycle outfit and a helmet with a visor, dismounted a powerful Yamaha T-Max scooter and opened fire.
According to witnesses the killer had time to turn over one of the wounded men who was trying to crawl away and fire three more shots into him before getting back on his scooter and making his escape.
The mayor of the town described the killings as “senseless”.
“They were boys with no history of trouble. They could have been my kids," said mayor Brigitte Bareges who added the attack recalled killings by Basque separatists.
Police said they had not established any formal link between the attack in Montauban with that in Toulouse, but the calibre of gun used in Toulouse matched the 15 spent cartridges found at the scene in Montauban.
Toulouse police were also among the officers at the scene in Montauban on Friday, suggesting the two inquiries were being carried out in parallel.