France Police officers gather close to the apartment building where a suspect in the shooting at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school is still barricaded, in Toulouse, Southern France, Wednesday, (Photo: AP).
The shooting suspect holed up in a flat in southern France claimed to police besieging him that he had been trained by the "Al-Qaeda" militant network in Afghanistan, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Francois Molins, France's chief anti-terror magistrate, said Mohamed Merah had claimed responsibility for three recent shooting sprees that left three soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a teacher dead.
"Mohamed Merah explained that he belonged to Al-Qaeda. He explained he had been trained by Al-Qaeda in the Pakistani-Afghanistan region in Waziristan. He explained his trips abroad, including his time in Afghanistan," Molins said.
Waziristan is a tribal area on the Afghan-Pakistani border which is known as a haven for Islamist insurgents – including "Al-Qaeda" cadres – connected to Taliban guerrillas fighting in both countries.
"He said he does not have a suicidal spirit, he did not have a martyr's soul, he preferred to kill and remain alive," said Molins, who as Paris prosecutor has overall responsibility for anti-terror investigations in France.
"He claims responsibility for all three series of killings, explaining them by evoking the fate of the Palestinians, France's external operations notably in Afghanistan, and dispute over the ban on the full face veil in France."