French police are searching for a man suspected to have shot dead two teachers in a small village in the Pyrenees mountains.

The teachers - a man and a woman who worked at a school in the nearby southwestern town of Tarbes - were found dead yesterday afternoon in the village of Pouyastruc, prosecutors said.

The suspected gunman "fled and has not been arrested yet", Tarbes prosecutor Pierre Aurignac said, adding that a double murder investigation has been opened.

According to a source close to the inquiry, who asked not to be named, a rivalry in love could lie behind the crime. The suspect, in his 30s but not named, is a former partner of the woman.

He is suspected of arriving on a motorbike in the village aiming to kill the pair. The woman, aged 32, was found dead by neighbours in a road while the man, aged 55, was then discovered dead in his home metres away.

"It is a terrible incident," said French Education Minister Pap Ndiaye, visiting a school outside Paris.

"I send my condolences to those who knew them."

Police said around 60 members of the security forces have been mobilised to find the suspect.

Psychological help has been put in place to support pupils and parents at the Desaix middle school in Tarbes where the teachers taught physical education and French.