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Fayyad: Stop using Palestinians to justify terror

March 21, 2012 2:11 P.M. (Updated: March 24, 2012 2:49 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Wednesday condemned the killing of three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in France, rejecting the suspected gunman's motive of avenging Palestinian children killed by Israel.

"This terrorist crime is condemned in the strongest terms by the Palestinian people and our children ... No Palestinian child can accept crimes against innocent people," Fayyad said in a statement.

The suspect Mohamed Merah, 24, claimed to belong to al-Qaida, and to want revenge for Palestinian children and French military involvement abroad, according to France's Interior Minister Claude Gueant.

He is also suspected by authorities of killing three soldiers of North African origin last week.

After an hours-long siege in a Toulouse neighborhood in southwestern France on Wednesday -- in which he wounded three officers -- Merah said he would hand himself over to police in the afternoon.

Fayyad slammed the shootings as an "attack on innocent lives ... a cowardly terrorist act," and he denounced the attempt to link the crime to solidarity with Palestinians.

"It is time for these criminals to stop exploiting the name of Palestine through their terrorist actions, and to stop pretending to stand up for Palestinian children, who only seek a decent life for themselves and for all children of the world," he added.

The PLO's diplomatic mission to Paris also denounced the attack. Palestinians "condemn in the strongest possible terms the hateful attack carried out in Toulouse," a joint statement of the missions to France and UNESCO said.

Noting the prior attack had targeted Muslim soldiers, the diplomats said the reported links between the shootings suggest "the murderer is driven by a multi-faceted racist hatred."

"We warn against any political exploitation of these events, and wish to assure the families and relatives of victims of our solidarity, and we join them in their pain and their grief," it added.
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