France shootings: Teacher 'in gunman tribute suspended'

A teacher has been suspended in France for allegedly asking pupils to hold a one-minute silence for gunman Mohamed Merah, who killed seven people, according to local reports.

Merah died in a police assault on his flat in Toulouse on Thursday after a 32-hour siege.

The Paris Normandie newspaper says students walked out after the teacher in Rouen called Merah "a victim".

The local education authority said the suspension does not mean she is guilty.

The teacher is also reported to have said Merah's links to al-Qaeda were invented by the media and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Image caption Mohamed Merah died in a shoot-out at his flat in Toulouse on Thursday

The local head of the SGEN-CFDT trade union, Pascal Bossuyt, told AFP news agency the woman "said something unfortunate in a particular context and she immediately regretted what she said".

Merah shot dead three Jewish children and a rabbi as they arrived at school on Monday morning, and he killed three soldiers a few days before.

French schools had held a minute's silence for the victims of the shootings after the attack on the Jewish site.

Most of the students walked out of the Rouen classroom although a few remained, saying they were trying to understand what the teacher was talking about, Paris Normandie said.

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