Merah buried in Toulouse after Algeria rejects body


The Islamist gunman who killed seven people before being shot dead by police was buried in Toulouse yesterday after the city's mayor dropped a refusal to permit the ceremony.

Mohamed Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin, was to have been interred in a village in the North African country at the request of his father, who lives there, but this was declined for security reasons.

The body of Merah, 23, whose slaying of three soldiers, three Jewish children and a rabbi shocked France and intruded on the presidential election campaign, was buried at about 7pm in a cemetery on the outskirts of Toulouse. The Mayor, Pierre Cohen, had earlier asked to postpone the burial so that the government could consider moving its location elsewhere, as he deemed it inappropriate to inter Merah in the south-western city where the killings occurred.

"It seemed better to us to find another burial location," he said. "The minister I contacted reminded me of the law and as a result I have given permission for him to be buried tonight.

"This decision could disturb public order and goes against the efforts I've made to unite Toulouse's citizens since the start of these odious crimes that have plunged our city into mourning," Mr Cohen added, saying that he feared Merah would become a martyr.

Police are searching for a third man who is suspected of helping to prepare the attacks. Merah's brother, Abdelkader, has told investigators another man helped the brothers to steal a motorbike used in the killings.