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France school shooting: What we know

French police issued a smarphone alert after a shooting in a school in the southern town of Grasse/AFP

Paris, France, Mar 16 – A 17-year-old pupil was arrested with a cache of weapons after a shooting in a high school in southern France on Thursday that left eight people injured including the head teacher.

Here is what we know about the shooting, which comes with France on high alert ahead of a presidential election and after a string of terror attacks:

Who was the attacker?

The suspect is a 17-year-old pupil at the Alexis de Tocqueville high school in the southern town of Grasse.

He was not previously known to police and appears to have acted alone, despite initial reports of a second attacker on the loose.

He was armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades.

The head of the regional government, Christian Estrosi, said that early indications pointed to someone with “psychological problems”.

Was this a terror attack?

Apparently not. Estrosi said they are “not at all” treating it as a terror attack at this stage.

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Eight people were injured in a school shooting in the French town of Grasse/AFP

France is still on high alert after a string of attacks by jihadists since January 2015 that has claimed around 230 lives.

Security was bolstered around schools for the new school year in September and more than 3,000 reservists were called up.

Who was hurt?

The head teacher and two others suffered gunshot wounds. Another five people were injured during a stampede following the shooting, according to a statement from the interior ministry.

Estrosi said the head teacher’s injuries are not life threatening.

There was panic at the school as some pupils escaped to a local supermarket and rumours spread quickly of an attack.

What was the response?

Schools in the town were immediately placed on lockdown and a smartphone application was triggered to warn people to stay away.

Terrified parents were also warned not to approach the school as elite special forces moved in to secure the area.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve broke off a visit to northern France and set off towards the scene in a helicopter.

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Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem also said she was heading immediately to the school.

– Where did it take place? –

The shooting took place in Grasse, not far from the French Riviera resort of Nice/AFP 

The Alexis de Tocqueville school has a good reputation and specialises in scientific courses.

The town of Grasse, just 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the French Riviera resort of Nice, is a quiet hillside town with a population of some 50,000 is famous for its perfume industry.


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