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Monday, 29 October, 2001, 20:38 GMT
French rail worker in gun rampage
Suspect on ground
One suspect has been detained by police
A French railway employee has gone on the rampage in the city of Tours, killing up to four people and injuring about seven others.

An eyewitness told BBC News Online she saw the man, wearing a hood, open fire at random on passers-by in the city centre.

I was only 10 metres away when he started shooting - I saw people lying on the ground, shot

Emmanuelle Cartier, eyewitness
The man was later arrested and taken away on a stretcher, after being cornered by armed police in an underground car park.

He was identified by local authorities as a 44-year-old father of three who works for the SNCF state railway company. He had no criminal record.

The motive for the attack remains unclear, but some reports said he may have had a grudge against his employers.

Stretcher bearing injured gunman
The alleged gunman was taken to hospital by stretcher
The shooting began outside the city's court buildings at 0945 (0845GMT). Other people were shot near the railway station and main post office.

All four killed are reported to be men between 36 and 66. At least two of the injured are thought to be police officers who had tried to stop the man.

Police said that, on his capture, the man told them he had no recollection of the incident.

Regional governor Dominique Schmitt said: "What we have here is clearly a case of someone gone mad.

"This is a deranged man who shot people at random. He was very depressive and quite fragile."

We saw him walking back and forth and aiming at people - he seemed completely mad

Eyewitness Stephane Bocquet
Eyewitness Emanuelle Cartier said the masked man was shouting as he shot people.

"I was only 10 metres away when he started shooting," she told BBC News Online.

"I saw people lying on the ground, shot. I was very shocked. I managed to turn a corner into another street."

Another witness, Stephane Bocquet, said: "We saw him walking back and forth and aiming at people. He seemed completely mad."

Many frightened passers-by took refuge in nearby offices.

Running in fear

Map showing Tours
"Everybody ran in from the streets. We have around 15 people taking refuge here, and 15 staff. Everyone is afraid," Edwige Guignard, of the tourist office, told News Online as the drama unfolded.

Security across France has been tightened in the wake of the 11 September attacks in the US, under the high-security plan known as Vigipirate. Extra armed officers, some with dogs, have been deployed at key sites across France.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin denied there had been a security lapse.

"When someone, if this is the case, is seized by an act of murderous madness, that's not a matter of ordinary security. I don't think the two things should be mixed up," he said.

The BBC's James Coomerasamy
"Drama at the centre of a peaceful French city"
See also:

13 Aug 01 | Europe
Paris robber is a sacked employee
02 Feb 01 | Europe
Big jump in crime in France
17 Jan 01 | Europe
French multiple killer found dead
27 Sep 01 | Europe
Swiss mourn gun rampage victims
27 Sep 01 | Europe
Gunman kills 14 in Swiss assembly
08 Jun 01 | Europe
Timeline: France
07 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: France
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