Triple shooting: ‘Killer bought AK47 rifle online’

The apparently deranged teenager suspected of gunning down three people with a Kalashnikov rifle in a random shooting in the south of France bought his weapon over the internet, it was claimed on Friday.

Triple shooting: 'Killer bought AK47 rifle online'
Forensic officers examine scene of Istres shooting. Photo: Gerard Julian/AFP

Investigators probing the random killing of three people in the town of Istres, near Marseille, believe the suspected killer bought the Kalashnikov rifle he used in the shooting over the internet, a report in the French media claimed on Friday.

One of the victims, a man thought to be in his sixties, was shot dead at the wheel of his car, the other two were male pedestrians, both local men aged 35 and 45 respectively.

A witness to the incident described how the 19-year-old suspect had walked around with his rifle poised "as if he was out hunting" and might easily have killed more people.

The suspect was arrested not far from the scene and remains in police custody. French radio RTL reported on Friday that a source close to the investigation had suggested that he had bought the military style weapon online.

If this is confirmed it will put more pressure on France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who visited the scene of the shooting on Thursday. Valls has vowed to crack down on the growing problem of gun crime in France.

"It is clearly very worrying. It once again raises the problem of the number of weapons in circulation," Valls said on Thursday

What pushed the teenage suspect to take the rifle into the street and murder three innocent people remains unclear.

Immediately after the shooting it was reported that the attacker had claimed he belonged to Al Qaeda, but it seems police have no proof to suggest this was the case.

“He has not given us any rational explanation and had no link at all with the victims,” a police source told RTL radio.

According to Europe1 radio the shooter's Facebook page reveals he had a love of guns and was convinced Al-Qaeda inspired Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah was innocent.

Investigators are looking into his background to probe whether he had a history of mental health problems.

A former class mate described the teenage gunman as "twisted", who had a love of watching gory films, according to Europe1.

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French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

A French court on Tuesday ordered the partial release of a Corsican nationalist who has served 24 years in jail for the 1998 murder of a top French official.

French court orders partial release for convicted Corsican nationalist

Under the ruling, Pierre Alessandri will be allowed out of jail to work for a landscaping company in the daytime and will be granted a full conditional release in a year if he behaves well.

The relaxation of Alessandri’s conditions of detention came amid tensions between the Mediterranean island’s pro-autonomy leaders and the French state, after a fellow Corsican detained in the same case was killed in a French prison in March.

Alessandri and a third Corsican detainee were transferred from mainland France to a jail in Corsica in April after the murder of Yvan Colonna.

The Paris appeals court granted Alessandri “a probationary partial release” of 12 months from February 13, the prosecutor-general Remy Heitz said.

If he behaves well, he would then be granted “conditional release” for another ten years, he said.

Alessandri’s lawyer Eric Barbolosi hailed the ruling as a “great relief”.

“For the first time in a court of appeals, the magistrates made a decision based on the criteria necessary for a conditional release, not the particular nature of the case,” he said.

Alessandri had served enough time to be eligible for such a release by 2017, and had already petitioned to be freed three times.

But national anti-terror prosecutors objected, and an appeals court barred his release.

The country’s highest court then quashed one of these decisions, ordering the Paris appeals court to re-examine it.

Colonna, a former goat herder, was announced dead on March 21 after an Islamist extremist who accused him of blasphemy strangled and suffocated him in a prison in the southern town of Arles in mainland France.

He was detained in 2003 after four years on the run, and sentenced in 2007, and then again in 2011, to life in jail over the killing in 1998 of the French government prefect of Corsica, Claude Erignac.

The killing was the most shocking of a series of attacks by pro-independence militant group FLNC.

Alessandri and another nationalist, Alain Ferrandi, had already been sentenced to life in jail in 2003 over the murder.

Ferrandi, who was transferred to the same Corsican jail, has also requested to be released on parole, and a decision is due on February 23rd.

Colonna’s murder sparked violent protests in Corsica.

It galvanised the nationalist movement and led President Emmanuel Macron’s government to offer talks about giving greater political autonomy to the territory.