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Two French paratroopers shot dead

A gunman on a motorbike has opened fire on three French paratroopers at a bank machine in southern France, killing two and critically wounding one, officials said.

It was the second such attack in a week targeting French soldiers in a public place.

Earlier, the Defence Ministry had issued a statement saying all three paratroopers had died, but a local police official and a Defence Ministry official later said one of them was in critical condition.

The three uniformed soldiers had been standing at a bank machine in the town of Montauban when a helmeted attacker arrived on a motorbike and opened fire, then fled.

Defence Minister Gerard Longuet expressed his condolences to the soldiers, their families and their regiment in a statement. They all three served with the 17th paratrooper combat engineering regiment, based nearby.

On Sunday, a 30-year-old soldier was fatally shot near a gym in the southern city of Toulouse by an unidentified attacker.

Neither the defence minister nor police announced any link between the two attacks, and the motives remain unclear.

The police official said the two soldiers killed were 24 and 26 years old.

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