France lowers alert level in Toulouse

Updated: 2012-03-24 23:51


  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

PARIS - The French government lowered the alert level in the southwest Toulouse area following the killing of gunman Mohamed Merah in a security forces' operation, local media reported on Saturday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday night announced to raise the terror alert to the highest level in southwestern France, where four people were killed at a Jewish school.

Meanwhile, the mother of the gunman was released Saturday but his elder brother was transferred to Paris for questioning, according to media reports.

Zoulhika Aziri, whose 24-year-old son Merah's deadly shooting rampage shocked France several weeks before the presidential election, had been released without charge, said her lawyer Jean-Yves Gougnaud.

The 55-year-old mother was filled with "guilt and remorse" and was afraid of retaliation, Gougnaud said.

Mohamed Merah was suspected of killing three national paratroops from ethnic minorities and four Jewish in the last two weeks in the southern cities of Toulouse and Montauban.

He was killed Thursday when he tried to shoot his way out of his apartment following a 32-hour police siege in Toulouse.

His elder brother Abdelkader Merah and Abdelkader's girlfriend will be questioned at French police's anti-terrorist headquarters in Paris, according to police union spokesman Michel Crepin.

Crepin said there was evidence suggesting that Abdelkader may have helped his brother carry out the murder.

Abdelkader, who said he was "proud" of his sibling, admitted he was present when the scooter used in the three attacks was stolen. But he claimed he knew nothing of his brother's criminal intentions.

Mohamed Merah was a "terrorist acting alone," Interior Minister Claude Gueant was quoted by the daily Le Figaro as saying.

But there has been speculation as to whether he had accomplices or logistical help.