Official: No sign French suspect had al-Qaida ties

JAMEY KEATEN Associated Press Published:

PARIS (AP) -- A senior French official says that authorities have no evidence that al-Qaida commissioned a gunman to commit a killing spree that left seven dead.

The official, who is close to the investigation into gunman Mohamed Merah, told The Associated Press that there is no sign he had "trained or been in contact with organized groups or jihadists."

Merah had traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and prosecutors said Merah had claimed he had been in contact with al-Qaida. A little-known group claimed responsbility for the killings but the official said the claim appeared opportunistic.

Merah was killed in gunfight with police Thursday.

The official spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.