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French terror probe after shootings

French police have broadened a probe into the shooting deaths of two paratroopers to include counter-terrorism investigators and specialists in serial killers.

A judicial official said authorities are examining several possible theories as they try to find the attacker and motive.

A gunman on a motorbike opened fire on three uniformed paratroopers at a bank machine on Thursday in Montauban in southern France, killing two and critically wounding the other.

The attack occurred not far from their barracks. The gunman appeared to be waiting for them, police said.

Four days earlier, a gunman on a motorbike shot and killed another paratrooper in Toulouse, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) away. The same calibre of weapon was used in both attacks.

A local police official in Montauban said investigators suspect a link between the two shootings.

French media was filled with speculation about what was behind the attack.

The three men targeted in the latest attack served in a regiment that lost four soldiers in fighting in Afghanistan, the 17th paratrooper combat engineering regiment, Montauban Mayor Brigitte Bareges said. However, they had not served in Afghanistan, according to a military official.

One of those killed had served in Africa, while the other two had served in French territories overseas but not in other countries, the official said.

Autopsies were under way today for the two killed, a 26-year-old and 24-year-old both shot in the head. The third remained in critical but stable condition. Their identities were not released. Defence Minister Gerard Longuet is expected to to the site.

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