- Murders have chilling echoes of Muslim fanatic Mohamed Merah's killing spree
- Three of the victims shot in the head with the same 7.65mm handgun used for each killing
- Shootings took place in the same Paris suburb as attack last November
By IAN SPARKS
The French fear a new serial killer is on the run after a gunman claimed the life of his fourth victim yesterday before fleeing on a motorbike.
The murders have chilling echoes of Muslim fanatic Mohamed Merah’s killing spree in south-west France last month.
An urgent hunt is underway for the new killer who killed his first victim with a shot to the body, while his next three targets died from a bullet to the head.
Police said the new killer has used the same 7.65mm handgun each time having carried out the four killings in the space of six months.
District prosecutor Marie-Suzanne Le Queau said that witnesses had also seen a man ‘staking out’ the building where the latest killing took place today.
A neighbour of the latest victim, said: ‘There were at least four loud bangs and then terrible screaming. There were people standing around saying “He killed her – he killed her”.
‘The man was tall, and he was white. After the shootings he leapt on to the moped and drove off at high speed.’
The killings have drawn instant comparisons with murders carried out by Toulouse Al-Qaeda fanatic Merah.
He shot seven people dead before he was shot himself by marksmen.
The latest victim of the new killer was a 47-year-old mother who was killed yesterday outside her home in the suburb of Grigny.
The murderer, who was wearing a crash-helmet, then made his escape.
In at least two of the previous shootings between November and April - all in the same southern Paris district - the killer had also fled on a bike.
The 23-year-old Al-Qaeda follower shot dead three soldiers in Montauban, then days later gunned down a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse - always escaping on his Yamaha T-Max scooter.
He died in a hail of gunfire while leaping from a window after a 32-hour siege at his flat.
Interior minister Claude Gueant said today: 'This series of killings is worthy of our attention and we have put all our energies into the investigation.'
The first victim was a young woman shot as she was parking her car outside her flat in the suburb of Juvisy-sur-Orge on November 27.
That murdered woman’s neighbour was then shot and killed in the street on February 22.
An 81-year-old man was killed as he entered his apartment block in the nearby suburb of Ris-Orangis on March 17.
Then a 47-year-old mother was shot in Grigny yesterday.
Asked if he believed the killings were linked, Mr Gueant replied today: 'Yes, this is a concern.'
Mr Gueant also said in a separate interview that Islamist groups in France may now be plotting to to seek revenge for the death of Merah.
He told Europe 1 radio: 'We have noticed a renewed enthusiasm and a desire to avenge the death of Mohammed Merah.
'Some radical Muslims may follow in his footsteps and try to become a martyr. We have to be vigilant.'
French news media stressed that the first two killings pre-dated Merah’s murders in south-west France, but LCI TV news added: 'The similarity of the modus operandi is both striking and frightening.'
A Paris police spokesman added today that they did not yet have any ‘political or religious profile’ of the person responsible for the latest spate of shootings.