France questions suspect over serial murders

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 14, 2012 12:04 PM
France questions suspect over serial murders

PARIS (Reuters) - French police detained a suspect on Saturday for questioning over a spate of fatal shootings in a Paris suburb in the last few months which had raised fears a serial killer was on the loose, a police source said.

Police were searching the home of the suspect, who French media said was a 33-year-old man, in the suburb of Essonne.

The shooting of a woman in Essonne in early April by a man on a motorbike sent shivers through France, coming days after an al Qaeda-inspired gunman shot dead three soldiers, a rabbi and three Jewish children in southwestern France in March.

Police hunted down that gunman in a matter of days and shot him dead after a long standoff at his home in the city of Toulouse.

The drama briefly boosted President Nicolas Sarkozy in opinion polls for a looming presidential election by thrusting a spotlight on security issues and the incumbent's strong law-and-order record over Socialist challenger Francois Hollande.

Prosecutors said earlier this month that the Essonne gunman had used the same 7.65 mm calibre semi-automatic pistol in three other shootings in the same area over the five previous months.

The government vowed to throw all its resources into hunting down the killer and placed 100 investigators on the case.

Europe 1 radio said that a second man had also been detained in central Paris over the Essonne case.

(Reporting by Nicolas Bertin)