'Accomplices' arrested over Toulouse killings

"Traveller community" member and ex-partner held in connection with Mohamed Merah's March shooting spree in French city.

    Merah shot a rabbi, three Jewish schoolchildren and three French paratroopers in March [AFP]
    Merah shot a rabbi, three Jewish schoolchildren and three French paratroopers in March [AFP]

    French police have arrested two alleged accomplices of Mohamed Merah, whose al-Qaeda-inspired shooting spree in and around the southern city of Toulouse left seven people dead earlier this year.

    A man, described by police as a member of the traveller community, was arrested on Tuesday in the southern town of Albi, while his former partner was arrested in Toulouse, a police source said.

    They were detained on suspicion they helped Merah in carrying out his attacks in March, the source said.

    Merah had accomplices, including someone from the traveller community who may have been involved in stealing the scooter he used in his attacks, French media had previously reported quoting Merah's elder brother Abdelghani.

    Merah shot a rabbi, three Jewish schoolchildren and three French paratroopers in March before being shot dead in a police siege.

    A petty criminal who was lured into ultra-conservative Islamic circles in Toulouse, Merah visited Afghanistan and Pakistan before his attacks.

    Since his shooting spree, it became clear that Merah had been on the radar of France's security services for years and that authorities under-estimated the extent of his radicalisation following his trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    French intelligence services have been heavily criticised for failing to realise the threat posed by Merah.

    His attacks prompted a rethink of French security policies, with legislation being considered that will allow authorities to prosecute citizens who attend training camps abroad and to boost monitoring of extremist sites on the internet.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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