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TOULOUSE

French spooks cut Merah monitoring: leaks

French intelligence services curtailed supervision of Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah a few months before his shooting spree in Toulouse despite his known links to extremists, according to leaked documents.

French spooks cut Merah monitoring: leaks

The reports from France's DCRI domestic intelligence service, seen by AFP, show that Merah was under intense surveillance throughout 2011 but that agents decided to reduce monitoring.

They show that Merah, who had been under surveillance since 2006, was identified as a "privileged target" at the beginning of last year after returning from a trip to Afghanistan, where he was detained in November 2010.

Surveillance from March to July indicated he was in regular contact with "the radical Islamist movement in Toulouse", said he was showing "paranoid behaviour" and that he was receiving funds from extremists.

Merah travelled to Pakistan between August and October last year and met with DCRI agents upon his return.

Despite the previous evidence, the agency concluded in November that only "selective" further monitoring of Merah was required, saying the meeting "did not allow for a link to be made between Merah and an eventual jihadist network".

French intelligence services have been repeatedly criticised for failing to prevent Merah's attacks.

Merah, a self-described Al-Qaeda sympathiser, shot a rabbi, three Jewish schoolchildren and three French paratroopers in attacks in and around the southern city of Toulouse last March, before being shot dead in a police siege.

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AIRLINE

New flights to south of France launched by Jet2

The low-cost British airline Jet2 has announced it will begin operating new services between the UK and southern France, starting in the summer of 2022.

New flights to south of France launched by Jet2
Flights will operate from May 1st 2022. Photo: AFP

When travelling is possible again, getting to Toulouse from the north-west of England is set to become much easier with the launch of new flights from Manchester Airport.

Jet2 already flies to Bergerac, La Rochelle and Nice. The company announced the new destination in response to demand for summer 2022 holidays.

Flights to the “Pink City” in south west France will operate from May 1st until October 16th 2022.

“Since putting our Summer 2022 programme on sale from Manchester Airport, we have added a significant number of flights and destinations in response to the demand from customers who want to get their all-important holidays booked in,” Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said in a press release.

Since the British government announced a lockdown roadmap on Tuesday, with plans to end England restrictions by June 21st, the company has begun to see a surge in bookings.

READ ALSO: Will summer holidays in France be possible this year?

However the present rules on entry into France from the UK are the strictest they have ever been, with virtually no travel allowed between the two countries and no end-date to the current restrictions.

Jet2 plans to reopen its services in mid-May.

“Following the UK government announcement that international travel will not return until May 17th 2021 at the earliest, we have taken the decision to extend the suspension of flights and holidays up to and including 16th May 2021,” Jet2 said on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/jet2tweets/status/1364188796506562561

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