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Merah neighbours seek compensation

Residents say they were promised that damage to properties would be paid for, but nothing has happened

RESIDENTS who were caught in the middle of a 32-hour armed stand-off between police and gunman Mohamed Merah are still struggling to get compensation from the state for damage and stress.

They say the authorities promised that repairs to their properties and cars would be paid for - and 15 neighbours have now formed a pressure group to get paid.

According to the group, the Toulouse mairie is powerless and it is the state at national level that has to act. The local police say damage caused by Merah's gun counts as terrorism and it is for the interior ministry to decide on compensation.

A Haute-Garonne préfecture spokeswoman said: "As soon as the work is carried out and paid for [by the resident], it can be reimbursed through the courts."

However, some residents say they cannot afford the legal fees to take action. One resident told reporters that she was having to spend €60 a week on psychiatrist sessions for her traumatised four-year-old daughter.

Another received just €500 from her insurer for a car that was damaged beyond repair. The gardienne in the block of flats says several residents have left the area and others are struggling to find a buyer for their property.

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