No sign French suspect had al-Qaeda ties
Paris - French authorities have no evidence that al-Qaeda commissioned a French gunman to go on a killing spree that left seven people dead, or that he had any contact with terrorist groups, a senior French official said on Friday.
The official, who is close to the investigation into the attacks by 23-year-old Mohamed Merah, said there is no sign he had "trained or been in contact with organised groups or jihadists".
Merah was killed in a gunfight with police on Thursday after a 32-hour standoff with police.
Prosecutors said he filmed himself carrying out three attacks since March 11, killing three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three French paratroopers with close-range shots to the head.
He had travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and prosecutors said he had claimed contacts with al-Qaeda and to have trained in the Pakistan militant stronghold of Waziristan.
He had been on a US no-fly list since 2010.
The official said Merah might have made the claim because al-Qaeda is a well-known "brand". The official said authorities have "absolutely no element allowing us to believe that he was commissioned by al-Qaeda to carry out these attacks."
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
A little-known jihadist group claimed responsibility for the killings, but the official said the claim appeared opportunistic and that authorities think Merah had never heard of the group.
Investigators looking for possible accomplices decided on Friday to keep Merah's older brother, his mother and the brother's girlfriend in custody for another day for further questioning, the Paris prosecutor's office said.
France's prime minister, meanwhile, fended off suggestions that anti-terrorism authorities fell down on the job in monitoring Merah, who had been known to them for years.