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Fri Apr 6, 2012, 12:01 PM

France fears a new serial killer is on the loose


PARIS (AP) -- A string of murders involving the same weapon have raised concerns that a serial killer may be on the loose in a Paris suburb, and come as France is still reeling from a wave of terror-related shootings in its south.

Four murders have taken place in the Essonne region of the capital since November, the latest that of a 47-year-old woman on Thursday. The same semiautomatic gun was used in all four attacks, prosecutor Marie-Suzanne Le Queau said during a press conference Friday.

Authorities stressed that there's no evidence yet of a link to terrorism in the Essonne killings, but Interior Minister Claude Gueant told French radio Europe-1 that he fears a serial killer might be behind them, and that "maximum resources" would be used to find the perpetrator.

French agencies already are on alert after a string of shootings last month in southern France that police say was the work of an Islamist militant who used a motorbike, videotaped the shootings and claimed links to al-Qaida. The alleged gunman was shot dead in a standoff with security forces.

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