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CRIME

Gunman kills three in ‘random’ shooting

Three people were killed in the south of France on Thursday when a gunman opened fire apparently at random in the southern town of Istres. French President François Hollande has sent his Interior Minister to the scene of the shooting.

Gunman kills three in 'random' shooting
Photo: Google Maps

A gunman opened fire with a Kalashnikov rifle in the southern French town of Istres on Thursday killing three people.

A 55-year-old woman was also left slightly injured after a bullet grazed her ear and police found a Kalashnikov automatic rifle in a ditch near the scene in the small town near Marseille, police sources said.

"Everything points to him having dumped it there after the shooting," one said, adding that the suspect was known to police for hoarding military weapons and had a history of psychiatric problems.

One of the victims, a man thought to be in his sixties, was shot dead at the wheel of his car, the other two were male pedestrians, both local men aged 35 and 45 respectively.

A witness to the incident described how the 19-year-old suspect had walked around with his rifle poised "as if he was out hunting" and might easily have killed more people.

"When a car drove up to him, he raised his rifle and pointed it at the driver. Luckily there was no one on the roundabout ahead and the driver did not stop. That saved his life."

The shooter was arrested not far from the scene at a roundabout on the road towards Romaniquette beach, near the city of Marseilles.

According to early reports in the French media the gunman opened fire at around 2pm in the middle of a busy street for reasons that are still unclear. He apparently aimed his weapon at people standing outside their homes.

Some reports in the French media suggest he had a history of mental illness but RTL radio station reported the man had claimed to belong to terrorist organisation Al Qaeda.

French President François Hollande, currently on a trade boosting mission to China, was immediately told of the killings.

He asked Interior Minister Manuel Valls to head to Istres.

Valls described the killing as a very worrying example of France's gun crime problem.

"It seems as if this person has opened fire with a very powerful weapon, a Kalashnikov," Valls said.

"It is clearly very worrying. It once again raises the problem of the number of weapons in circulation."

The local Prefect of Police, Jean-Paul Bonnetain, said the killings had apparently been of a random nature.

"Nothing at this stage has enabled us to establish a link between the shooter and his victims."

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CRIME

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Frenchman Sebastien Raoult pleaded not guilty to cybercrimes Friday in Seattle federal court, two days after he was extradited from Morocco.

Frenchman extradited to US on hacking charges pleads not guilty

Federal Judge Michelle Peterson told the 21-year-old Raoult that he was charged with nine counts, including conspiracy, computer intrusion, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Raoult listened through an interpreter.

After Raoult’s plea of not guilty, the judge ordered him to be detained as a flight risk until a hearing April 3.

Moroccan authorities arrested Raoult at Rabat airport May 31 at the request of the US Department of Justice. Along with Raoult, two other French nationals were also arrested, Gabriel Bildstein, 23, and Abdel-Hakim El-Ahmadi, 22.

According to Raoult’s indictment, he and the other two men are alleged to have formed a hacking team, dubbed “ShinyHunters,” to steal confidential data from 60 companies to sell on the dark web where criminals routinely operate.

Some of the companies are located in the Seattle area.

According to experts, beginning in 2020, the hackers stole customer data from the Indonesian e-commerce site Tokopedia, the US clothing brand Bonobos, the US telecom AT&T and many other companies, putting the personal data for sale on the dark web.

The criminal charges carry a possible jail term of up to 27 years in prison.

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