French police on Tuesday arrested two alleged accomplices of gunman Mohamed Merah, whose Al-Qaeda-inspired shooting spree in and around the southern city of Toulouse in March killed seven people, including a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren.
A man, described by police as a member of a traveling community, was arrested in the southern town of Albi, while his former partner was arrested in Toulouse, a police source said, AFP reported.
They were detained on suspicion that they had assisted Merah in carrying out his attacks in March, the source said.
Merah\’s elder brother Abdelghani previously told French media that the gunman had accomplices, including someone from the traveler community who may have been involved in stealing the scooter Merah used to flee the scene of the attack.
He had also claimed that Merah was “brainwashed” by his family to hate Jews.
Merah’s sister had also been under criminal investigation after declaring she was “proud” of her brother’s murderous escapades in a television documentary.
Merah shot a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren outside of the Otzar Hatorah day school, as well as three French paratroopers, before being shot dead in a police siege.
Merah, who had previously been a petty terrorist, was lured into Islamic circles in Toulouse, prompting him to visit Afghanistan and Pakistan prior to the attacks.
Since his shooting spree, it became clear that Merah had been on the radar of France\’s security services for years and that authorities under-estimated the extent of his radicalization.
French intelligence services have been harshly criticized for failing to take the necessary precautions to prevent such attack.
His killing spree prompted a rethink of French security policies, with legislation being considered that will allow authorities to prosecute citizens who attend militant Islamist training camps abroad and to boost monitoring of extremist sites on the Internet.