French killings arrest denied (Second Lead)

March 22nd, 2012 - 12:24 am ICT by IANS  

Paris, March 21 (IANS) French Interior Minister Claude Gueant Wednesday denied that a suspect involved in the shooting deaths of several people has been arrested, Xinhua reported.

The attacker allegedly shot dead seven people in the Toulouse area early this month.

Gueant confirms Mohammed Merah (the suspect) has not been arrested, the France24 TV channel said contradicting an earlier report by BFM TV.

The Frenchman planned more killings, prosecutors have said.

Merah, who says he was trained by Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s Waziristan area, is suspected of murdering three soldiers and four Jewish people, the BBC reported.

Police Wednesday surrounded his flat and were trying to persuade him to surrender. He is said to be heavily armed.

Earlier reports said he had been captured, but officials later rebuffed the claims.

The killings took place in and around Toulouse in three separate incidents earlier this month.

On March 11, a soldier was shot and killed while waiting to see a man about selling his motorcycle. Days later, two soldiers were shot and killed, and a third was wounded while waiting at a cash machine.

Then earlier this week, three children and an adult were shot and killed outside a Jewish school. Jonathan Sandler, a 30-year-old teacher, his two sons, Gabriel and Arie, and seven-year-old Myriam Monsonego, daughter of the Ozar Hathora school principal, died in the attack in Toulouse Monday, according to Xinhua.

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