New suspect arrested in Argentina tourist murders: police

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Authorities have arrested another suspect in the murders of two French women who were found shot to death in a tourist area in northern Argentina, federal police announced Tuesday.

Police said the man, who was not immediately identified, was arrested late Monday. Another man who had been arrested earlier in the day was released late Monday for lack of evidence, officials said.

"A man arrested arrested in investigation of the French tourists," the police's Center for Judicial Information said on its website. "The procedure was carried out Monday night."

It said the man would be questioned by the judge in charge of the investigation, Martin Perez, in the northern city of Salta where the murders occurred.

The French women's bodies were found Friday by hikers on a trail in an area overlooking Salta, a provincial capital.

Police had arrested 43-year-old Francisco Tejada -- who rents horses to tourists in the area where the bodies were found -- early Monday, but he was released "for lack of merit" after being questioned by the judge.

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said his country was "appalled by the terrible crime," in a letter to his French counterpart Alain Juppe, adding that authorities were "working hard on the case."

The victims -- Houria Moumni, 24, and Cassandre Bouvier, 29 -- were "brilliant students" of Latin American studies at the Sorbonne, the university's president Marie-Christine Lemardeley said.

They were believed to have been killed sometime last week after going on a hike in the rocky trails that offer panoramic views of Salta, some 1,600 kilometers north of Buenos Aires.

The two women entered the San Lorenzo Gorge on July 15, according to a park registry, but were believed to have been killed sometime between Tuesday and Thursday, and may have been held captive for several days.

One of the woman was shot in the head and apparently sexually abused. The other was shot in the back.

© 2011 AFP

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