French gunman’s body may be sent to Algeria

The body of an al Qaeda-inspired gunman will be flown to Algeria on Thursday if the country agrees.

Paris: The body of an al Qaeda-inspired gunman who killed seven people in a shooting rampage in southwest France will be flown to Algeria on Thursday if the country agrees to receive it, an official at one of the biggest mosques in Paris said on Wednesday.

Abdallah Zekri said the body of Mohamed Merah was currently at a hospital in the city of Toulouse while Algerian authorities decided whether they were willing to receive it. French media had reported that Merah`s father had requested burial in Algeria.

"Algiers hasn`t yet given its consent," said Zekri.

The 23-year-old self-styled Islamist radical, who admitted to the killings, was shot last Thursday during a gun battle with police who laid siege to his apartment for more than 30 hours.

On Tuesday, Merah`s father, Mohamed Benalen Merah, lashed out at French authorities for killing his son. The elder Merah, who lives in Algeria, had earlier said he wanted to sue France.

"France is a powerful country with huge resources," Merah told France 24 television. "They could have taken him while he slept. They could have used a sleep-inducing gas and taken him like a baby. Why were they so hasty? Why did they kill him?"

"They could have arrested him and had him face justice," he added.

French authorities are checking to see whether Mohamed Merah planned the attacks alone or with others. His victims included three soldiers, three Jewish school children and a rabbi. His older brother, Abdelkader, is in police custody.

Bureau Report