TOULOUSE, France (AP) -- The military on Friday ordered soldiers in a section of southern France to wear civilian clothes when off-base for extra security following deadly, unsolved shootings of paratroopers in the area.
The order comes as police broadened a probe into the shooting deaths Thursday of two paratroopers to include counterterrorism investigators and specialists in serial killers, officials said.
The army called for enhanced vigilance among the 7,000-8,000 troops in the 11th paratroopers brigade based in and near Toulouse, and ordered them to dress in civilian attire when off-base, said Lt. Col. Pierre-Yves Sarzaud, an army spokesman.
A gunman on a motorbike opened fire on three uniformed paratroopers at a bank machine Thursday in the southern town of Montauban, 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 kilometers (30 miles) away. The judicial official said the same caliber of weapon was used in both attacks.
A judicial official said authorities are examining several possible theories as they try to find the attacker and motive. A police official in Montauban said Friday that investigators suspect a link between the two shootings.
Both officials were not authorized to be named because the investigation is ongoing.
French media percolated with speculation about what was behind the attack.
The three men targeted Thursday served in a regiment that lost four soldiers in fighting in Afghanistan, the 17th paratrooper combat engineering regiment, Montauban Mayor Brigitte Bareges said.
However, Thursday's victims 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 Friday for the two killed, a 26-year-old and 24-year-old who were both shot in the head. The third remained in critical but stable condition, the Montauban prosecutor's office said. Their identities were not released.
The national judicial police are overseeing the investigation, a service that includes anti-terrorist investigators and specialists in serial crimes, the judicial official said.
Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said he was heading to the site Friday.
Angela Charlton and Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed to this report.