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Several injured in shooting at high school in French town of Grasse

© Valery Hache, AFP | French police officers direct traffic near the Tocqueville high school in the southern French town of Grasse on March 16.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-03-16

A shooting at a high school in the southern French town of Grasse has left at least eight people injured, the interior ministry said Thursday. A 16-year-old student has been arrested in connection with the attack.

Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told BFM TV that eight people had been injured and advised families to remain patient as police took control of the situation. The headmaster and two others suffered gunshot wounds. Five other people were injured in a stampede following the shooting.

The 16-year-old student who was arrested was armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades, a police source said, adding: "The individual does not seem to be known by police." 

A police official said there did not appear to be any other suspects, although authorities are still working to "remove all doubt". Earlier reports said that there may have been a second shooter.

A crisis centre has been put in place after the attack at Tocqueville High School, education official Emmanuel Ethis said on Twitter. Ethis urged worried parents not to come to the school, saying that "pupils are safe".

"The other pupils have been asked to stay in the school and not panic," local officials said.

A French prosecutor said that the shooter’s motivations “appear to be linked” to his troubled relationships with other students. Regional newspaper Nice Matin reported that the suspect had been a victim of bullying at the school.

Benjamin, a 16-year-old student, described what he saw.

“Around 12:40pm, I was sitting down and finishing my meal. I heard a loud explosion and then two more. I turned and saw someone in the courtyard shooting with a pump-action shotgun. He shot at the classroom windows that face the courtyard. When I saw that I started running.”

Local emergency services advised on Twitter that residents stay at home. The government also used its mobile phone application to warn of a possible "terrorist" attack.

All schools in the town, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the French city of Nice, have been locked down, education authorities said.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve cut short a trip to the northern Somme area in light of the day's events, which included an earlier letter bomb at the offices of the International Monetary Fund in Paris that injured one person.

The incidents come as France remains under a state of emergency after several militant attacks over the past two years. It also comes less than six weeks before the first round of a presidential election in which security and terrorism are among the key issues.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-03-16


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