Teen released, 2 still in custody for French church attack

2016-07-30 18:42


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Paris – A teenager detained following the gruesome killing of an 85-year-old priest by a pair of jihadi attackers in northwest France was released on Saturday, a French official said.

An official with the Paris prosecutor's office said investigators questioning the 16-year-old found evidence of regular visits to jihadi sites and of "incitement to terrorism," but that the minor's case had been handed over to prosecutors in the nearby city of Rouen who cover the region. She spoke on condition of anonymity as she was not allowed to be named publicly.

Judicial authorities in Rouen did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

A Syrian refugee and a cousin of one of the two attackers remain in custody following the July 26 attack in the French town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray which claimed the life of Rev Jacques Hamel as he celebrated morning Mass. The violence sent shockwaves around France and deeply touched many among the nation's 5 million Muslims.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, as well as the July 14 truck attack in Nice, where 84 people were killed by a man who ploughed a truck down a seaside promenade. France has seen rising jihadi violence in the past 18 months, with attacks against journalists, Jews, police and partygoers.

The deadliest violence struck Paris on Nov 13, when Muslim fanatics targeted Paris' Bataclan concert hall, restaurants and a stadium, killing 130 people and wounded hundreds more.

In a separate development, two men suspected of connections to the Paris attacks were extradited Friday from Austria to France. The men, identified by Austrian authorities as a 35-year-old from Pakistan and a 29-year-old from Algeria, are believed to have come to Europe last year posing as refugees.

Another French judicial official said the men were handed preliminary charges of "criminal terrorist association."

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