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French Islamist gunman's body to go to Algeria: relative

The body of Islamist gunman, Mohamed Merah, who was killed in Toulouse after stand-off with police, is being flown to Algeria where it will be buried

AFP , Wednesday 28 Mar 2012
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The body of an Islamist gunman branded a "monster" who boasted of killing seven people in southern France is due to arrive in Algeria on Thursday, a family member told AFP on Wednesday.

Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent, was killed by police March 22 after a lengthy stand-off at his Toulouse apartment.

A close relative of Merah, who asked not to be named, told AFP his remains would arrive in Algiers on at 1315 GMT on Thursday, via an Air Algeria flight.

The body "will be accompanied by the mother and a sister of the deceased," the relative said, adding the corpse would first be washed in France, according to Muslim custom, before being buried in the Medea region south of Algiers.

Algerian authorities, however, had yet to agree to Merah being buried in the north African country, said Abdellatif Mellouki, head of a Muslim faith council in southern France.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has said Merah was a "fanatic and a monster" who killed three soldiers and four Jewish people in three attacks in and around Toulouse.

Merah's father, Mohamed Benalel Merah, said Wednesday he would not "shut up" after saying he wanted to sue France for the death of his son.

The comment, reported in Algerian Arab-language daily newspaper, came after French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe reacted angrily to the threat of a legal challenge.

"If I were the father of such a monster, I would shut my mouth in shame," Juppe said.

When police surrounded Merah's Toulouse apartment last week, the gunman fought off an initial assault and then, in a conversation with a police negotiator, claimed responsibility for all three attacks.

He said he shot dead three soldiers in two separate attacks in Toulouse and nearby Montauban on March 11 and 15, then last Monday he opened fire at a Jewish school in Toulouse, killing a 30-year-old teacher, his sons aged five and four, and a seven-year-old girl.

On Sunday, authorities charged the gunman's brother, 29-year-old Abdelkader Merah, with complicity in the attacks, but he has denied any involvement.

A video apparently of the killings was sent to the Al-Jazeera news channel Tuesday, along with a letter in poorly written French claiming the attacks in the name of Al-Qaeda.

Al-Jazeera said it would not broadcast the footage. 

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