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A police official said the same powerful .45-caliber handgun used in Monday’s attack on a school in Toulouse was used in shootings four days ago that killed two paratroopers and seriously injured another in nearby Montauban, and in an attack that killed a paratrooper eight days ago in Toulouse.

In Monday’s attack, which took place about 8 a.m., the killer also used a .35-caliber gun, the police official said. At least 15 shots were fired at the school, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

A police union official in Paris said the shooter knew weapons well to handle a .45-caliber handgun plus a second gun.

“The shooter is someone used to holding arms,” Nicolas Comte of the SGP FO police union. “He knows what he’s doing, like an ex-military guy.”

Sarkozy rushed to Toulouse to visit the school with Richard Prasquier, the president of CRIF, the umbrella group representing Jewish organizations.

“This act was odious, it cannot remain unpunished,” Sarkozy said.

“We do not know the motivations of this criminal. Of course, by attacking children and a teacher who were Jewish, the anti-Semitic motivation appears obvious. Regarding our soldiers, we can imagine that racism and murderous madness are in this case linked,” he said Monday night after returning to Paris.

Sarkozy’s challengers for the presidential vote in April and May also hurried to the scene.

The slain rabbi taught at the school and reportedly arrived from Jerusalem last September with his wife and children.

France has the largest Jewish community in Western Europe, estimated at about 500,000, as well as its largest Muslim population, about 5 million.

Toulouse, a southwestern city north of the Pyrenees mountains, has about 10,000 to 15,000 Jews in its overall population of 440,000, said Jean-Paul Amoyelle, the president of the Ozar Hatorah school network in France. He said its Jewish community is well integrated into the city.

The school targeted Monday, behind a high white wall, was cordoned off by police, who then escorted other children out as forensics police combed the scene. Six bullet holes circled an aluminum fence that surrounds the school.

One officer held a distraught girl, her face in her hands. A mother and son wearing a yarmulke walked away from the site, their faces visibly pained.

“Everything leads one to believe that these were racist and anti-Semitic acts,” Toulouse Mayor Pierre Cohen said on BFM-TV.

“This is a Jewish school, well identified as such, and it is normal to think that anti-Semitism is at cause,” CRIF said in a statement.

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