Toulouse killings: France lifts 'scarlet' terrorism alert after six days


Police guard a security perimeter on Friday around the Place du Capitole in Toulouse after its evacuation over a suspect package.



After six days, France’s Interior Ministry today lifted the “scarlet” terrorism alert in the Midi-Pyrénées region where a gunman was suspected in this month’s shootings of 11 people, seven fatal, according to the newspaper France-Soir.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that prosecutors in Paris were continuing investigations seeking to identify any accomplices for the suspected shooter, Mohammed Merah, who died Thursday as police laid siege to his apartment.

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Put in place after the March 19 shootings at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse, the scarlet alert is France’s highest and was activated for the first time, according to the newspaper. The alert is the last level before emergency provisions in France’s Constitution can be applied. France has been on “red” alert since London’s terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005.

The news broadcaster TF1 was among the channels to broadcast images of the apartment where Merah holed up for 33 hours until he was killed Thursday by police. Bullet holes are apparent.




France-Soir also said the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy was considering introducing legislation providing jail times for those convicted terrorism apologists.

Meanwhile, the French television channel TF1 reports that police have identified the weapon allegedly used by Merah in the attacks as a Colt 0.45 automatic pistol. The weapon was discovered Wednesday in the search of an automobile

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Several news outlets including TF1 were reporting that a high-level meeting was held at the Elysée Palace, the residence of the president, to discuss security police: Prime Minister François Fillon, Interior Minister Claude Guéant and Justice Minister Michel Mercier were present, as were the directors of the national police heads of domestic and foreign intelligence.