Toulouse shooting: Police arrest 2 suspected accomplices


This screengrab from France 2 television shows an image of Mohammed Merah. The video was reportedly filmed by Merah's friends a year and a half ago in the suburbs of Toulouse.

French police have arrested two people accused of acting as accomplices to Mohamed Merah, the Islamist extremist who shot dead seven people in southern France earlier this year.

Agence France Presse reported that a man was detained this morning in Albi, a town about 40 miles from Toulouse, Merah's hometown and the scene of his attacks in March.

A woman, said to be the other suspect's ex-girlfriend, was arrested in Toulouse.

According to AFP, police describe the man as "a member of the traveller community who converted to Islam."

He is accused of helping Merah directly, while his former partner is suspected of knowing about his involvement and failing to report it.

Authorities have not yet specified how the man is thought to have assisted Merah, though French newspaper Libération said he could be the "third man" believed to have helped Merah and his brother steal a scooter that would later be used in the attacks.

Libé's Toulouse edition says that Abdelkader Merah, who has been in police custody since March, told investigators that he and his younger brother had an accomplice in the theft but refused to reveal his identity, calling him a "childhood friend."

Until now, Abdelkader Merah was the only person to have been arrested in connection with the attacks. Mohamed Merah was shot dead by special police forces after a stake-out at his apartment.

Lawyers for the families of Merah's victims say he couldn't have carried out the shooting spree without help, and have vowed to pursue the prosecution of all those involved, the Associated Press reported.

It remains unclear where Merah got the funds and weapons necessary to plan and execute his attacks, which left dead three paratroopers, a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren.

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