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Three arrested in connection with Toulouse killer Merah

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-03-27

French police on Wednesday said they had arrested three men believed to be linked to Mohamed Merah, an Islamist gunman who shot dead seven people in the southwestern city of Toulouse a year ago.

France’s prosecutor’s office says three people have been arrested in southern France as part of the inquiry into last March’s Toulouse terror attacks.

The arrests come just 10 days after President François Hollande, speaking in Toulouse, said that France is tightening its intelligence-gathering to prevent further terror attacks like that of radical Muslim Mohamed Merah, who killed three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers a year ago.

Agnes Thibault Lecuivre of the prosecutor’s office said two people were arrested late Tuesday in Toulouse, adding that one of the arrests took place in the gritty Les Izards neighborhood where Merah spent some of his childhood.

A third person, a serving French soldier, was arrested at his barracks on Wednesday morning in the nearby town of Castres.

No charges have been brought.

Detectives looking into the case are convinced that Merah, who had travelled to Pakistan in 2011, could not have acted alone and fear accomplices still at large could represent a security threat.

To date, the only person charged with helping him is his brother Abdelkader Merah, who has been in custody since last year but denies involvement in the killings.

Five other people have been detained and interrogated by police as part of the probe but they were all released without charge.

Since Merah’s death, it has emerged that he had been known to France’s security services for several years and it has become clear the threat he posed was disastrously under-estimated by agents who had contact with him.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-03-27

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