Gunman buried in France after Algeria reportedly rejects remains
The gunman who boasted of committing a series of killings of French soldiers, Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi was buried in France on Thursday, one week after he was killed following a marathon standoff with police.
Mayor Pierre Cohen of Toulouse had reportedly objected to Mohamed Merah, 23, being buried in the southwestern France city where he lived and two of the attacks were carried out. Merah's father said he would be buried instead in a family plot in Algeria, according to several news reports, but Algerian authorities reportedly refused.
The idea of burying Merah in Algeria had upset Algerians who felt their country was being unfairly tied to the attacks carried out by the young French man of Algerian descent.
“We allowed this country to be a dumping ground for French nuclear waste,” an Algerian paper wrote in an editorial that referred to the time of French colonial rule of the North African country, according to France 24. “We will not allow it to become a dumping ground for French terrorist waste.”
Merah's body was interred in a cemetery in the Cornebarrieu neighborhood on the outskirts of Toulouse after President Nicolas Sarkozy pressed for the burial, saying the country should get it over with.
“It's all over. We aren't talking about it anymore. He is in his grave,” Abdallah Zekri of the French Muslim Council told the Associated Press after the funeral.
French authorities are still investigating whether more people were involved in the attacks that took seven lives in Toulouse and nearby Montauban. The victims included three children, ages 3, 6 and 10, and a rabbi at a Jewish school, as well as three French paratroopers. The brother of the dead gunman, Abdelkader Merah, was indicted Sunday on charges of complicity in the killings, Bloomberg News reported.
Merah was killed March 22 after a 32-hour siege that police say ended when they stormed his apartment and Merah burst out of a bathroom, guns blazing. He jumped out a window, still firing. One of the hundreds of officers and sharpshooters ringing the building shot him in the head, authorities said
Merah's father, Benanel, has threatened to sue France for killing his son, telling France 24 in a televised interview that the police “could have used sleep-inducing gas and taken him like a baby.”
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: Relatives bury Mohamed Merah on Thursday in a cemetery near Toulouse, France. Credit: Marthial Roland / Associated Press