Toulouse (France): A father and his two sons were among four people who died when a gunman opened fire in front of a Jewish school in a city in southwest France on Monday, the Toulouse prosecutor said.

Michel Valet said the 30-year-old man and his 3-year-old and 6-year-old sons were killed in the shooting just before school started.

He said another child, between 8 and 10 years old, was also killed, and a 17-year-old seriously injured.

The shooter drove away on a scooter, a national police official in Paris said. The official did not wish to be named in line with departmental rules.

Police cordoned off the private school in the northeast of Toulouse, and some two hours after the shooting children were still in the school.

President Nicolas Sarkozy accompanied by Richard Prasquier, the president of CRIF, the umbrella group representing Jewish organisations, were heading to the site of the private school, the president's office and CRIF said.

The shooting occurred about 8:10 am just ahead of the start of classes in most schools.

The shooting happened in the same area where a gunman on a motorbike opened fire on three uniformed paratroopers at a bank machine on Thursday, killing two and critically wounding the other.

The attack in the town of Montauban occurred not far from the soldiers' barracks. Four days earlier, a gunman on a motorbike shot and killed another paratrooper in Toulouse, about 50 kilometres away.