French Pres. Hollande at Toulouse memorial
French Pres. Hollande at Toulouse memorial Reuters

A serving French soldier has been detained in connection with last year's massacres in Toulouse by Algerian-born Islamist terrorist Mohamed Merah.

The soldier was arrested at his barracks in the southern town of Castres on Wednesday morning according to police sources quoted by AFP.

The arrest followed the detention for questioning late Tuesday of two other men.

So far, Merah’s brother Abdel Khader Merah has been charged with helping him carry out the murders. He has denied the charges.

Merah killed three French paratroopers, allegedly to avenge France’s involvement in NATO operations in Afghanistan – and then murdered a rabbi and three young Jewish school children at a Jewish day school in Toulouse.

Police put an end to the killing spree after surrounding Merah’s apartment, located not far from the school, when the gunman tried to escape custody by climbing out the window. He died in a hail of bullets fired by special security forces.

Nevertheless, French officials fear that Merah, who traveled to Pakistan in 2011, could not have acted alone and that some of his accomplices may still be at large.

On the anniversary of the massacre three suspected Islamist terrorists were arrested in southern France on suspicion of planning an attack in the days ahead, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins.

Police found weapons and explosives at the home of one of the suspects in the town of Marignane, near Marseille, and intercepted communications between the men suggested they were close to carrying out their plot, Molins told reporters at a news conference. All four men who were held for questioning were later released, but were to be placed under formal investigation.

"The investigation showed we were faced with a veritable laboratory for making improvised explosive devices and, even if we had no evidence of a precise plan, the messages exchanged by the participants suggested the timetable could be accelerated," Molins said.

Barely a week later, on March 17, French President Francois Hollande delivered a special address to pay tribute to the victims during a memorial ceremony for those murdered by the 23-year-old gunman.