Toulouse gunman 'accomplices' held

2012-12-04 12:00
Mohamed Merah. (FRANCE 2/ AFP)

Mohamed Merah. (FRANCE 2/ AFP)

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Paris - French police on Tuesday arrested two alleged accomplices of gunman Mohamed Merah, whose al-Qaeda-inspired shooting spree in and around the southern city of Toulouse left seven people dead.

A man, described by police as a member of the traveller community, was arrested 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's elder brother Abdelghani previously told French media that the gunman had accomplices, including someone from the traveller community who may have been involved in stealing the scooter Merah used in his attacks.

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

Policy rethink

A petty criminal who was lured into Islamic extremists 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 militant Islamist training camps abroad and to boost monitoring of extremist sites on the internet.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  mohamed merah  |  france  |  french attacks
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