No terror links found in French retirement home murder

Police

Police

Investigators probing the killing of a worker at a missionary retirement home in southern France believe it was a local crime and are not treating it as a terror attack, a prosecutor said Friday after police arrested a suspect.

The slaying set nerves jangling in France late Thursday after a string of jihadist atrocities in 2015 in 2016, but local prosecutor Christophe Barret said, “There is no element linking the facts with Islamist terrorism”.

“We are moving towards the idea of local crime, someone who was in the area of this home,” Barret told reporters, adding that a car found near the retirement residence for Christian missionaries helped identify the suspect, and that an air gun and other elements had been found in the vehicle.

The suspect, a man in his mid-40s and who lives near the retirement home in the village of Montferrer-sur-Lez, near the southern city of Montpellier, was arrested later on Friday.

A gendarmerie press official said reports that the suspect was a former member of the French military had not yet been confirmed, adding that investigators had uncovered information that contradicted a past military link.

The man, who was masked during the attack, is suspected of entering the retirement home late Thursday where he tied up two women. One of the women managed to call police, who then found the victim, a 54-year-old employee, bound and tied up outside the building with three fatal stab wounds.

France has been in a state of emergency since the Paris attacks one year ago that killed 130 people, and authorities reacted quickly to the attack. Some 130 police officers searched the area for the attacker on foot, in vehicles and by helicopter.

The residence, called “Green Oaks,” is operated by the African Missions Society, and takes in retired priests, nuns and others who have worked on missions in Africa.