Francois Hollande marks Toulouse killings anniversary

French President Francois Hollande, left, hugs Latifa Ibn Ziaten, mother of French soldier Imad ibn Ziaten, in Toulouse, March 17, 2013 Francois Hollande met the mother of Toulouse murder victim Imad Ibn Ziaten

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France's president has led tributes to the victims of Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah, who murdered seven people in Toulouse a year ago.

Francois Hollande told a service held to mark the first anniversary of the killings that he remained committed to the fight against terrorism.

Al-Qaeda sympathiser Merah was eventually killed in a police siege.

Meanwhile, a fifth French soldier has been killed in Mali, where France is battling Islamist fighters.

France intervened in Mali in January to push back the Islamists, who had taken over much of the north and were threatening to overthrow the government.

In Toulouse, Mr Hollande told about 1,500 mourners that the Mali intervention was "in the name of the international community".

"A fifth French soldier is dead. He deserves, like his comrades, the tribute of all of the nation because he defended not only our ideals, but he participated in the liberation of a friendly nation," he said.

He also promised to continue the fight against terrorism, which he said "allows for no easing off, no weakness and no negligence".

"Democracy is always more powerful than fanaticism," he said.

Merah murdered three soldiers in the street and later attacked a Jewish school, where he killed three children and an adult.

Police cornered him at his flat in Toulouse and he was shot dead.

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