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Southwestern France Shootings

March 20, 2012 by staff 

Southwestern France Shootings, French police hunting an anti-Semitic serial killer have eliminated from their inquiries three soldiers recently sacked for expressing neo-Nazi views, a source close to the probe told AFP on Tuesday.

The mystery gunman killed three paratroopers – including two soldiers from the 17th Parachute Engineering Regiment (17e RGP) – last week, and on Monday attacked a Jewish school, killing three children and a parent.

The slain soldiers were of North African Arab origin and the victims at the school all Jewish, leading authorities to suspect that the killings may have been racist or anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Following the killings, media reports recalled that three soldiers from the 17e RGP had been drummed out of the regiment after an incident in 2008 when they staged a neo-Nazi demonstration.

One of the suspect former soldiers was briefly brought in for questioning, and on Tuesday Interior Minister Claude Gueant confirmed that a link with the neo-Nazi troops was one possible line of inquiry.

But a police source later told AFP that, while inquiries were continuing, a direct link with the trio had been “one hypothesis among others” and was “no longer a priority in the current stage of the investigation”.

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