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Saturday, 24 March 2012

Pakistani Taliban training Frenchmen | Officials

New Delhi: Nearly 85 French Muslims are being trained by the Taliban in northwest Pakistan, claim intelligence officials.

Officials say that the Frenchmen are being trained under the name Jihad-e-Islami - they are likely to avenge the killing of a 23-year-old al Qaeda suspect in southern France earlier this week. Authorities suspect he may have trained at the camp too.

Authorities are investigating whether Mohamed Merah, the Frenchman of Algerian descent who is suspected of killing three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three French paratroopers in Toulouse this month, was among the training group, the officials said.

Merah was killed in a dramatic gunfight with police on Thursday after a 32-hour standoff at his Toulouse apartment.

The 23-year-old former auto body worker travelled twice to Afghanistan in 2010 and to Pakistan in 2011, and said he trained with al Qaeda in the Pakistani militant stronghold of Waziristan.

Most of the Frenchmen have dual nationality with France and North African countries.

The Frenchmen operate under the name Jihad-e-Islami and are being trained to use explosives and other weapons at camps near the town of Miran Shah and in the Datta Khel area, the officials said.

They are led by a French commander who goes by the name Abu Tarek. Five of the men returned to France in January 2011 to find new recruits, according to the officials.

It's unclear whether Merah was among that group.


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