'No evidence' of Mohamed Merah terror link, says French official

 

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The Independent Online

There is no evidence that gunman Mohamed Merah had links with al-Qa'ida or other terror groups, a French official says.

The official, who is close to the investigation into Merah's killing spree, said there is no sign he had "trained or been in contact with organised groups or jihadists".

Merah had travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and prosecutors said Merah had claimed he had been in contact with al-Qa'ida.

A little-known group claimed responsibility for the killings but the official said the claim appeared opportunistic.

Merah was killed in a gunfight with police yesterday after a 32-hour siege at his apartment in Toulouse.

The official said Merah might have made the claim because al-Qa'ida is a well-known "brand." Authorities have "absolutely no element allowing us to believe that he was commissioned by al-Qa'ida to carry out these attacks".

Investigators looking for possible accomplices decided 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.

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