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Terror alert after four killed

Maximum security massive manhunt starts for lone gunman who has murdered seven in three attacks

THE south-west of France is on maximum "scarlet" terror alert after the Toulouse school massacre as a manhunt is launched to find the lone killer.

President Sarkozy ordered the highest level Vigipirate Ecarlate alert in Midi-Pyrénées as hundreds of police were drafted in to guard Jewish and Muslim schools and businesses; military bases, railway stations, airports and other main transport links in Toulouse.

France has been on red alert since the July 2005 attacks in London but this is the first time the scarlet level has been used.

Schools across the country were also this morning marking a minute's silence at 11.00 in memory of teacher Jonathan Sandler, 30, his two sons, Gabriel, six, and Arié, three, and seven year old Myriam Monsonego, the daughter of the Ozar Hathora school head teacher.

Coming just one month before the first round of presidential voting, Sarkozy, Socialist rival François Hollande and other candidates also called a halt to the campaign as they honoured the victims.

In Paris, Sarkozy and Hollande attended a service at the Nazareth synagogue in the 3rd arrondissement. They were joined by green candidate Eva Joly who had been on a silent march at Place de la République organised by the Jewish student union UEJF.

Three linked attacks have seen three paratroopers of North African descent killed: Imad Ibn Ziaten, 30, killed in Toulouse on March 11, and Abel Chennouf, 25, and Mohamed Legouad, 26, killed in Montauban on March 15. A 17 year old student was also seriously injured in the school attack.

Interior Minister Claude Guéant said there were real fears of a fourth attack.

Police say that the same gun - a 11.43mm (.45) pistol - was used in all three attacks, but the gunman switched to using it at the school after another weapon, a 9mm pistol, jammed. He also used a scooter in all the attacks.

Toulouse newspaper La Dépêche prepared a special edition on the killings here

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