Gunman Mohammed Merah buried in Toulouse after Algeria rejected body (UPDATED)


This screengrab from France 2 television shows an image of Mohammed Merah.

The mayor of Toulouse has called it "inappropriate" to bury the body of the French man who claimed to have killed seven people in a string of attacks earlier this month.

The mayor's rejection came immediately after officials in Algeria refused to accept Mohammed Merah's body.

Merah's family had sought permission for a funeral in his father's native Algerian village, Bezzaz, French newspaper Le Parisien reported. However, village officials turned down the request for security reasons, fearing that the grave could become either a shrine or a focus for attacks.

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The family then decided to bury Merah in the Muslim section of Cornebarrieu cemetery in Toulouse, Agence France Presse reports.

The news agency describes how 15 men accompanied the casket to the graveyard on Thursday afternoon, where Muslim prayers were recited.

According to BFM TV the grave was likely to be unmarked, and Abdallah Zekri of the Paris Grand Mosque was quoted as saying: “the family wants a burial that is the most simple and discreet possible.”

"The main thing now is to bury him and stop talking about him," Zekri told reporters.

The mayor of Toulouse, Pierre Cohen, called burial in his town "inappropriate" and tried to delay the burial so that the matter could be raised with government, BBC reported.

However, he relented after the president Nicolas Sarkozy intervened and said:  "Let him be buried, and let's not create a debate about this," Associated Press explains.

Under pressure from the central government in Paris, the mayor relented, and agreed to an evening internment.

Meanwhile, police are investigating whether Merah carried out the killing spree alone. Investigators have already charged his brother, Abdelkader, as an accomplice and are now hunting for a third man, according to the Parisien.

The paper reported that Abdelkader Merah told officers an accomplice helped him and his brother to steal the scooter Mohammed rode during the attacks. Police have reportedly found an abandoned car containing parts of the scooter, and have traced the vehicle's owner to an address near Merah's.

Merah's father has hired an Algerian lawyer to sue the French special forces squad that killed him as he resisted arrest, prompting outrage from French politicians.

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