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RESPONSE TO TERROR

French Arrest 2 in Afghan Slaying Probe

January 17, 2002|From Times Wire Services

PARIS — French police have arrested two men on suspicion of providing support to the assassins of Afghan resistance leader Ahmed Shah Masoud, judicial officials said Wednesday.

The arrests are part of an intensive manhunt for those responsible for killing Masoud just days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The suicide attackers apparently posed as journalists and detonated a rigged TV camera, mortally wounding Masoud.

The two men were taken into custody Monday and identified as Abderammane Ameuroude, a 24-year-old Algerian, and Mehrez Azouz, a Frenchman of Tunisian descent. Officials said intelligence agents also seized a significant amount of evidence from the men's apartment.

The two were arrested on a warrant from Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere. Since early November, Bruguiere has been seeking out members of a support network that may have provided false documents to the assassins of Masoud, the charismatic Northern Alliance leader known as "the Lion of Panjshir."

Bruguiere has also placed Youssef el Aouni and Adel Tebourski, both Frenchmen of North African descent, under investigation for "association with criminals in relation with a terrorist enterprise" and falsification of documents.

Both men had been arrested at the request of Belgian officials, who suspected them of forging passports. Masoud's killers carried Belgian passports.

Several others were detained in France and Belgium in November on suspicion of organizing the attack on Masoud.

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